“Get Out”

“My man,” “This thang,” and “Black is in fashion,” are just three of the awkward and inappropriate lines Bradley Whitford’s Dean utters to Daniel Kaluuya’s Chris in “Get Out.” This is a horror movie that’s more satirical than most modern horror movies.

The laid back and artistic Chris is seeing the beautiful and independent Rose (Allison Williams). They’re getting serious, so it’s time for Chris to meet Rose’s parents at her grandiose childhood home. Her father Dean is a neurosurgeon who tries too hard to be cool, while her mother Missy (Catherine Keener) is a hypnotherapist who wants to know about Chris’s darkest secrets.

In addition to the awkward dinner, Chris notices some strange behavior from the African American residents, and when he’s bluntly told to “get out,” he finds it’s easier said than done. That’s all you need to know about the plot!

“Get Out”  has everything I want in a horror movie, and then some. Eerie visuals and atmosphere, ominous music, a small amount of gore that isn’t distracting, restrained jump scares, an even balance between horror and humor, and social commentary. “Get Out” is a callback to some of the best horror films of the 70s and 80s, while holding its own.

Jordan Peele of “Key and Peele” shows off his love of horror films in his directorial debut. From the opening tracking shot to a thrilling climax, Peele keeps us white knuckling while laughing simultaneously.

Peele does a great job commentating on racism without being preachy about it. “Get Out” takes jabs at the racists who think they aren’t racist. Just because Dean says, “I would have voted for Obama a third term,” that doesn’t mean he’s the liberal saint he sells himself as.

Each cast member does a great job diving into their characters. Kaluuya plays Chris as a cool-yet-vulnerable man who wants to be treated as a person. Williams is cool and spunky as Rose, who acknowledges her family’s bigotry and won’t stand for it. Whitford and Keener are an even balance of menacing and quirky, taking a unique spin on the overbearing parent character arc.

The standout performance goes to the hilarious Lil Rel Howery as Chris’s friend, Rod. He takes the cliched comic relief best friend and plays him as a concerned secondary protagonist.

“Get Out” holds a rare 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, and rightfully so. It’s a social commentary that humbly states racism is still active, even if people think it isn’t.

Grade: A

 

“The Hateful Eight”

Restraint has been quite popular this year for a few filmmakers who had seemed to forgotten the meaning of the word. Quentin Tarantino is the latest with “The Hateful Eight”.

“The Hateful Eight” is Tarantino’s second Western film, and it’s set in a violent blizzard in Wyoming. Colonel Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) sits on a pile of dead bounties and a stage coach featuring fellow bounty hunter John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell) and convict Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) offer him a ride.

Along the way, they pick up a dimwitted sheriff named Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), and the four find themselves in a lodge with four other strangers – retired confederate general Smithers (Bruce Dern), cowboy Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), British hangman Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), and lodge owner Bob (Demian Bichir).

It’s when the eight characters meet each other that “The Hateful Eight” turns into a bloody Western play with elements of dark comedy, murder mystery, and even a brief moment of body horror. This is not “Django Unchained” (which is good, but not his best) or “Inglourious Basterds” (which I loved). This is a glimpse of what Tarantino’s future looks like as a playwright/novelist.

Tarantino uses 70mm film stock to beautifully photograph exterior landscapes and pay close attention to detail within the elaborate lodge set-piece. His script is cleverly written since he’s restrained his humor and ego. I mean that we hear Tarantino’s character’s talk; not Tarantino.

The characters are by far the best part of “Eight”. Jackson’s Warren is a menacing vengeful sociopath who takes pride in bounty hunting and his role in the civil war. Russell’s Ruth is an arrogant and misogynistic bounty hunter who respects his hardened allies. Leigh’s Daisy starts as a foul and quirky convict who gets increasingly psychotic throughout the film. Goggins’ Mannix is the most dynamic character, seeing he’s a bigoted-yet-noble sheriff.

The first half of “The Hateful Eight” is all about mystery and tension, which is masterfully built and paced, thanks to Ennio Morricone’s mesmerizing score, eerie shots reminiscent of John Carptenter’s “The Thing,” and interactions between the characters. The second half gets meta and over-the-top with loads of blood splatter and revelations.

I love Tarantino and I was greatly impressed with his execution in “The Hateful Eight”. It was less of a film tribute and more of an actual film. Even with the trademark heads blowing off, the racial slurs, and the similarities to “Reservoir Dogs,” it’s one damn innovative Western.

Grade: A