Monday 20 March 2017
Sunken Do Nots
Directed by Jordan Peele
UK cinema release print.
Warning: Right from the outset, there will be spoilers here.
If you want to see this movie then don’t be reading this review.
I will kinda half apologise right now because I know a lot of people really like this movie but... I wish I could’ve had a heads up and 'gotten out' of seeing Get Out when I had the chance.
The warning signs were clearly on the trailer. It looked like a truly obvious plot set up hiding no real surprises and I didn’t totally buy into the ‘happy couple’ of the trailer either... something definitely wasn’t as simplistic about that relationship as one of the characters obviously thought it was. In short, it looked like a truly forgettable attempt at a thriller with a possible racist bent and not something I would ever really need to see.
But then, much to my amazement, it started getting some truly great word of mouth on twitter and the like, the week before its UK debut. People and, even some organisations I trusted, were touting this as a modern day classic. Not only that... they were touting it as a classic ‘horror movie’. Really, did I miss something in the trailer which tagged it as a horror movie? Couldn’t see any non-human monsters or supernatural elements in there but if people were saying this was so and being as enthusiastic as they were then... maybe this one was worth checking out after all.
So I did and then, rather than write the review up as soon as I got home from the cinema, I put a good night’s sleep between the computer keyboard and me as that was my review equivalent of counting to ten to calm down because, frankly, I came out of that movie so angry at having such a non-film inflicted on me that I didn’t want to say things I’d regret in the heat of anger. So hopefully my enraged rant is somewhat tempered as I write this the next morning.
Lets get the good stuff out of the way first.
Get Out is nice to look at and is edited in such a way that it all manages to hold together... except in the case of one ‘what the heck, that’s not possible’ moment and I’ll detail that in a while. The main male lead Chris, played by Daniel Kaluuya, is really good in this and one of the few good things about the script is that he’s painted as a really smart and confident character who, frankly, you would want to go to the pub and hang out with. It’s a great performance and it feels a little wasted in this movie, to be honest. We also have Catherine Keener playing the mother of Chris’ current girlfriend Rose, played by Allison Williams. Keener is always a great performer to watch and, along with Kaluuya, is one of the few people in this movie who aren’t playing it way over the top. Which is more than I can say for the guy playing the father, who came off as channelling Bill Murray's character in Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums, it seemed to me. The last guy who is really terrific in this movie is Caleb Landry Jones, an actor I’ve come to admire over the years. I first saw him playing a villainous brother in The Last Exorcism (reviewed here). After a while I noticed him cropping up as a more pleasant and even heroic figure in films such as X-Men First Class, where he plays Banshee (reviewed here) and the incredible Byzantium (which I reviewed here). Alas, he’s back to playing a villainous brother again here and I really hope he doesn’t get typecast in this kind of role because, if he’s not careful, he’s going to end up as the Brad Dourif of his generation and that would be a shame.
That’s pretty much it for the good stuff, I’m afraid. The score is kinda nice but I don’t understand why it’s being singled out by people and, well, it’s not out on CD as far as I can tell, only download, so it’s not like I’ll get the opportunity to hear it away from the movie myself. It was nice to hear Flanagan and Allen performing Run Rabbit Run again on the soundtrack though.
Okay, the bad stuff.
Did I mention it’s really obvious? I’d picked up on all the main, so called ‘twists’ during the first watch of the trailer, including the stuff about Chris’ girlfriend which supposedly ‘comes to light’ two thirds of the way through the movie but which, in fact, is pretty much telegraphed right from the get go. I hate figuring out films ahead of time and maybe it’s because I’ve seen a fair few of them that it’s hard to surprise me but this one is truly not a plot you would need to understand rocket science for, people.
Another thing... this is in no way, shape or form a ‘horror movie’. It’s not even an American slasher. It’s squarely attempting to be a thriller and, if you want to get really technical, I’ll acknowledge that there’s a very soft science fiction tinge to the story, if you want to see it that way. I don’t know why people would buy into the idea this is a horror movie but I can only assume the kinds of people seeing this have no idea what a horror film even looks like. Also, the people loving this movie (and it’s good that they do, actually, because that means cinema is not dead and some of them will go on to perpetuate the industry/art form when they go to work, one would hope) must all be really young and naive cinema goers who don’t have that many films under their belts because, seriously? They didn’t see any of this stuff coming after the first ten minutes of the movie?
There was one thing I even saw coming even though it made ‘absolutely no sense’ for it to be happening. In order to stop himself being triggered by a certain sound which puts him back into a hypnotic trance (the sunken place), Chris, who is strapped down tightly in a chair, realises that the upholstery he has been picking at with his fingers contains cotton padding inside and it’s something that he can stuff his ears with. Which he promptly does? Um... what? So he manages, somehow, to unpick the big straps that have his hands trapped, which he’s already demonstrated is impossible, stuff his ears up and then, even more of a stretch, somehow replace these straps and make them look untampered with? I can only assume that a crucial sequence explaining just how this would have been possible was excised from the movie at some point because, frankly, this completely throws any semblance of credibility the movie was going for at this point. Absolutely no way that happens people!
That’s not all, either. After our hero successfully uses the cotton wool to block his ears at a key point and is looking to make his escape from hostile territory with similar dangers... he throws the cotton wool away! Really? You would throw your one chance at protection from this problem away before you’ve made it to freedom? I think not. This is a serious weakness in the movie and I really can’t think of a way of justifying this kind of plotting, to be honest. This isn’t just ‘not turning a light on in a scary movie’ levels of wrongheadedness... this is completely crazy.
And I’m racking my brains to say anything else of any interest about Get Out here but I think I’m done. It’s a shame that such fine actors and a quite competent director have collaborated on a story which feels like it comes straight out of 1950s short stories and would make one of the less interesting episodes of The Twilight Zone but I equally can’t blame them because, well, sometimes things look a little rosier on the page than they turn out on the screen. I’m really glad, in some ways, that the film is doing well for them because then, at least, they’re getting something back from it. I just hope it doesn’t usher in a new golden age of truly dumbed down stories that insult the collective intelligence of the audiences like this one does, though, because that’s always a possibility when something like this is a hit. I just hope that next time I trust my gut instincts on the trailer and work out which films to let pass me by. We shall see. I’m not a fast learner.