Inspired by the creeping dread of The Stepford Wives, Jordan Peele’s slickly engineered horror is a razor-sharp satire, which takes a scalpel to simmering racial tensions in present day America.
Get Out prescribes shocking violence and laughter in equal measures, carefully exposing the ignorance that simmers beneath the surface of polite middle-class liberalism.
When the script bares its polished teeth, it draws plenty of blood from the nail-biting battle of wits between a gifted black twentysomething artist and his white future in-laws, who believe voting for an African American president is a badge of honour.
Peele takes this clash of cultures to the unsettling extreme, engineering a series of hairpin twists that reveal the sick and twisted design behind his suburban nightmare.
In early scenes, including a horrific encounter with a deer, Get Out revels in our discomfort, creating a prickle of impending doom like an infuriating itch you can’t quite reach.
Once the Machiavellian masterplan is revealed, some of that tension dissipates and Peele’s film falls back on familiar tropes to resolve the stand-off.
London-born actor Daniel Kaluuya delivers a stellar performance as the unsuspecting lamb to the slaughter.
He plays gifted photographer Chris Washington, who is nervous about a road trip to meet the parents of his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams).
“Don’t go to a white girl’s parents’ house,” advises Chris’ wise-cracking best friend Rod (Lil Rel Howery), who proudly protects the public as an officer of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
Ignoring his pal’s warning, Chris drives with Rose to her parents’ pristine community, where he is warmly welcomed by Dean Armitage (Bradley Whitford) and his psychiatrist wife, Missy (Catherine Keener).
Dean gives Chris a tour of the house, avoiding the basement – “We had to seal it up – black mould down there” – and attempts to put the young man’s concerns to rest by confessing his political allegiances.
“I would have voted for Obama for a third term if I could. Best president in my lifetime,” proudly declares Dean.
However, something about the neighbourhood feels out of kilter and Chris is unnerved by the passive behaviour of the Armitages’ black groundkeeper Walter (Marcus Henderson) and maid Georgina (Betty Gabriel).
When Missy discovers Chris is struggling to give up smoking and offers to use hypnosis to cure his filthy habit, meeting the parents becomes a bruising battle for survival.
Get Out is a smart and sophisticated descent into psychological hell, punctuated by giggles courtesy of Howery’s buddy, whose paranoid delusions might be rooted in reality.
Whitford and Keener relish their dark, ambiguous roles as parents who are determined to create an American dream, by fair means or foul.
Writer-director Peele sustains dramatic momentum and drip feeds us teasing clues until he is ready to begin the blood-letting in lip-smacking earnest.