March 17, 2018

A Brief Review of Get Out (2017)

Get Out (2017)As is my tendency, I somehow managed to see Get Out (2017) without having read any spoilers beforehand. Going into it, all I had heard was that it was supposed to be really good, that it had something to do with a Black man meeting his White girlfriend's family, and that it was a horror flick. Interestingly, this last bit about it being a horror film would prove to be controversial. The genres that have been attached to this film are quite varied, and I've seen it described as horror, thriller, dark comedy, comedy, and drama. I first heard about it on horror film blogs, so I'm going with that. I think that probably comes closest to how it was marketed too.

I found the first third of Get Out to be as good as any film I've seen in the last 10 years. It was well-acted, well-directed, clever, and creative as hell. The entire cast was fantastic. I loved the premise and was blown away with the execution. Had the rest of the film been as good as this portion, I would have said that it deserved every award it received and many more.

We meet a young interracial couple who is on their way to visit the White woman's family over a weekend. From the beginning, we pick up on a bit of tension and it becomes clear that race is going to figure prominently into the story. Everything works perfectly to create what starts as a mild sense of unease that builds throughout this portion of the film. We know something is going to go horribly wrong, but we aren't initially sure what it is.

As good as it was initially, I found that much of the surprise and dread seemed to evaporate by the second third of the film. There are some great moments here, but it was too easy to figure out what was going to happen next. With the suspense gone, things became more predictable and even started to feel familiar. This was the point in the movie where I was reminded of another film (which I won't mention in order not to give anything away). Watching as much horror as I do, being reminded of a different film while watching one isn't uncommon. Unfortunately, it became distracting here.

The problem with starting out as strong as Get Out did is that it is almost impossible to sustain the momentum. It began to feel like a let-down. I'm hesitant to be overly critical of this because I can think of too many other horror films where this is an issue. I will say that it did seem like a bigger let-down here primarily because of just how good things were initially.

The final third of Get Out, while entertaining, was the weakest. There was no suspense left; it was too obvious what was going to happen next. I hoped briefly for some sort of surprise ending. It didn't happen, and that's probably okay because I'm not sure what they could have done that would have made sense in the context of the film while managing to be a sufficient surprise. What started out as something truly special ended up feeling too ordinary.

As a straight-up horror film, Get Out did not work particularly well. It was not scary, and the outstanding sense of dread they developed in the beginning was not sustained into the second and third acts. As I mentioned above, this is a common problem in many horror films and results in the viewer feeling let down. Having said that, there are more than a few horror films that I still enjoy in spite of being far worse than Get Out was in this respect. Get Out was a much better film than most of them.

After it was over, I found myself thinking that this was not a great horror film but that it was still a great film. I enjoyed enough that I would definitely see it again, and I wouldn't be surprised if I appreciated it even more on a second viewing.