The Hollywood Foreign Press Association endure a significant amount of wholly deserved derision for the sometimes spurious reasoning employing in divvying films into the broad categories of “Drama” and “Comedy/Musical” every year (a practice, it’s worth noting, abetted by studios trying to game the system in the run-up to the far more prestigious Academy Awards). But in the case of this year’s poster child for eye-rolling misclassification, Get Out, I think the decision to reductively dub the film a comedy actually serves to illuminate one of its great strengths. Jordan Peele’s feature directorial debut begins with the basic textures of a horror film, but then contorts them into a piece of cinema that redefines what genre filmmaking can do. The film doesn’t subvert the form. It’s not as simple as that. Instead, it expands the very possibilities of the horror film, incorporating social satire in a manner that remarkably enhances the fiction’s authenticity.
The wariness displayed by Daniel Kaluuya as Chris Washington, whose journey upstate to meet his girlfriend’s parents turns menacing, suits the confines of the story, but it also seems to exist outside of it, like meta-commentary offered conspiratorially to the audience. It’s a note perfect performance, bolstered by equally great work from the entire cast, with special commendations due Lil Rey Howery, Betty Gabriel, Bradley Whitford, and especially Allison Williams, who has her own version of crafty duality to play. It is Peele’s. Kaluuya plays the main character, but it is truly Peele’s voice in the leading role, delivering a striking assessment of race and identity in the modern U.S. with an abundance of insight and a complete absence of didactic lecturing. And it’s memorably funny, too. Being real, it accomplishes so much that it probably belongs in a category all its own.