WARNING: Mild spoilers below.
A rare hybrid of socially-charged drama and horror that scored well with audiences and critics alike? Not bad for a first-time director known mostly for sketch comedy. Jordan Peele's Get Out (2017) skillfully combines several genres with energy to spare, offering a one-two punch of great characters trapped in a subversive and unpredictable story. Our protagonist is Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya, in his first starring role), a photographer who's nervous about meeting the parents of his white girlfriend Rose Armitage (Allison Williams). It goes pretty much as expected: neurosurgeon father Dean (Bradley Whitford) tries waay too hard to seem cool, while psychiatrist mother Missy (Catherine Keener) suggests hypnotherapy to curb Chris' smoking habit. To make matters worse, all of the hired help is black and there's a huge party with their liberal elite friends booked the same weekend.
Naturally, things get worse in a hurry. After a humiliating exchange with Rose's brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones), Chris' late-night walk turns into a revealing chat with Missy about his own past---specifically, the death of his mother when he was 11---which feels so surreal that he almost dismisses it as a nightmare the next morning. Soon enough, guests arrive and the party dials his comfort level down even further...but not before Chris recognizes the face of a black guest who disappeared from the area several months earlier. Aside from supportive Rose---who eventually suggests they bail for the weekend---Chris' only other lifeline is pal Rod Williams (Lil Rel Howery), a TSA employee with plenty of free time for texting. Otherwise, he might as well be on Mars.
The true core of Get Out doesn't seem to be plot-related, as surprisingly dense as its story eventually proves to be: it's the emotional relationship between its characters, a subversive blend of horror and social clichés brazenly turned upside-down for maximum discomfort and unpredictability. Call it what you want---even Guess Who's Coming To Get Lobotomized After Dinner?---but Peele's expertly crafted story is both refreshingly different and treats its audience with the utmost respect. Perhaps Get Out's only slight drawback is the somewhat overcooked mythology of the Armitage family tree, which goes at least one or two layers deeper than necessary. But when a first-time director pulls off a debut this satisfying in a genre polluted by near-constant disappointment, that's cause for celebration. Featuring plenty of great performances, finely-tuned pacing, and a truly memorable score by Michael Abels, it's the kind of film that gets under your skin immediately and should hold up perfectly well to repeat viewings.
Shot in just 23 days on a budget of less than $5M, Get Out's massive success all but guaranteed a quick ride to home video. Luckily, Universal's Blu-ray/DVD package offers plenty of support with an outstanding A/V presentation and several enjoyable and informative extras (highlighted by a feature-length audio commentary by Peele, plus a handful of deleted scenes and an alternate ending also with optional commentary). Overall, it's an attractive package for established fans and curious newcomers.
Presented in its original 2.39:1 aspect ratio, Get Out looks as good as you'd think for a big studio film still playing in a handful of theaters nationwide. As expected for a film that changes emotional tone abruptly at times, the visuals follow suit with several different color palettes and light levels that range from attractive outdoor locales to dimly-lit and intimidating quarters. The good news is that Universal's Blu-ray handles everything quite well with strong image detail, texture, and black levels that feel deep without swallowing up everything else. Digital imperfections such as edge enhancement, noise, and excessive DNR could not be spotted along the way. Aside from the possibility of a future 4K release, Get Out won't look better on disc anytime soon.
DISCLAIMER: The still images and screen captures on this page are decorative and do not represent the Blu-ray under review.
Likewise, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix has a great presence but is dialed back quite a bit during many stretches, which gives the film a wonderfully unpredictable sonic presence the first or second time through. Dialogue remains exceptionally crisp and clear from start to finish, with several well-placed uses of strong channel separation and low-frequency effects to amplify much of the suspense. Overall, it's an effective and crisp mix that, aside from a bump to Atmos or 7.1, is not likely to be improved in the near future. Optional English (SDH), French, and Spanish subtitles are included during the film and most of the bonus features.
Presented in Universal's typical no-frills style, the interface is smooth and well organized with separate options for chapter selection, audio/subtitle setup, and bonus features. This two-disc release (one Blu-ray, one DVD) is packaged in a dual-hubbed keepcase with a Digital Copy redemption code and a matching slipcover that's very similar to the original poster seen below.
While the lack of cast input is disappointing, a feature-length Audio Commentary with writer/director Jordan Peele delivers plenty of information and rarely lags along the way. Among other topics, Peele discusses motifs and background details, subverting horror clichés, foreshadowing and symbolism (ad nauseum), shooting the film in 23 days, the cast and their performances, CGI, viewing the film a second time, assembling the cast and crew, the liberal elite, Knights Templar, the red Alchemist Society, favorite characters and performances, practical effects, James Taylor, the Dharma Initiative, and much more. There's some great information here and very few lapses into silence, but a second participant would have definitely spiced things up a little bit.
Also included are 11 Deleted and Extended Scenes ("Rose Hypnosis", "Rutherford", "Badminton", "Sunken Place Deer" (seen below), "Detective Latoya", "Rod Arrival 1 - Sex Slave", "Rod Arrival 2 - Don't Give Up on Love", "Rod Arrival 3 - White Girls", "Rod Arrival 4 - Cousin Single", "Rod Arrival 5 - Bathroom", and "Rod Arrival 6 - Rose's Vote", 23 minutes total) and a substantially different Alternate Ending (4 minutes) that's more realistic but much less satisfying. Each includes optional commentary by Peele.
Finally, "Unveiling the Horror of Get Out" (9 minutes) offers a surface-level but enjoyable overview of the film's themes, structure, overall style, as well as comparisons to earlier films, while an all-too-brief Q&A Session (5 minutes) gives Peele and cast members Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, and Lil Rel Howery a short time to speak more about their contributions.
Densely layered and wildly unpredictable, Jordan Peele's debut film Get Out is subversive slice of contemporary horror that dares its audience to connect every dot along the way. It's enjoyable for all the right reasons, serving up no shortage of twists and turns with strong performances that anchor a clever and often surreal story. While portions of the third act do manage to go a bit too far over the top, this is a minor strike against what's otherwise a supremely confident effort from first-time director known more for his comedy. Well received commercially and critically, Get Out makes a solid splash on Blu-ray as well, with a top-tier A/V presentation and a handful of mostly light but informative bonus features. Highly Recommended to fans and first-timers alike.
Randy Miller III is an affable office monkey by day and film reviewer by night. He also does freelance design work, teaches art classes, and runs a website or two. In his limited free time, Randy also enjoys slacking off, juggling HD DVDs, and writing in third person.