I saw Get Out last weekend, with a friend with whom I’ve written a few projects, and a couple of other friends. During our lively discussion afterward, one of the other friends asked us how the movie stood up for us as writers.
There’s a lot of good reasons to see Get Out, and the writing is definitely one of them. Jordan Peele wrote as well as directed. When I see a film where one person has done both I always wonder how they take on those two different perspectives on their own work. Is it easy or difficult to think like a writer one minute, a director the next? I’ve done a fair bit of the former and only a little of the latter, so I don’t really know.
Get Out is well written, though. My writer friend watches a lot more horror than I do and pronounced the plot somewhat predictable, but in an entertaining way. It avoids hewing to any one set of tropes and that’s part of what makes it work: sometimes you’re watching biting social satire, sometimes straight-up comedy, sometimes psychological thriller, sometimes (though I think this is probably the smallest portion) horror. I found myself thinking that an excellent sense of timing is critical to both humor and horror, and can work the same way for both. It definitely does here.
Get Out is very funny, sometimes in ways that’ll make you wince. The dialogue crackles, and lest you think the people Chris meets at Rose’s parents house are exaggerated–they really aren’t. Not much, anyway, and often a slight exaggeration is funnier for sliding that much closer to the truth. These feel like real people even as you’re wondering what the hell is wrong with them. There are some great scenes, where just a few lines and some great subtle body language on the part of the actors communicates volumes. Peele doesn’t overly explain anything. He doesn’t have to. It’s all there already.
There are a few instances of handwaving. I have a far easier time believing that Chris’s friend Rod is smart enough to track him down than that he exercised some mysterious power of the TSA. Dean Armitage doesn’t seem to be running a very good surgery; with all his money you’d think he could afford breathing apparatus for his patients, and having what appears to be the world’s most hazardous halogen lamp in there for illumination is, as we see, manifestly unsafe.
These are minor quibbles, though. Overall the writing in Get Out is like the rest of it: lean, efficient, sharp, a clever puzzle of a story that reminded me a great deal of The Stepford Wives. You’ll never look at Bingo the same way again.