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Scary White People

Comedian Jordan Peele makes a horror movie

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HARROWING  Daniel Kaluuya brings tenderness and grit to his role in ‘Get Out.’
  • HARROWING Daniel Kaluuya brings tenderness and grit to his role in ‘Get Out.’

What do white people want? As a civilized horror comedy, Get Out asks the question, wondering over the strange mix of ogling and fright with which the majority views the minority. It's hugely entertaining and absolutely ingenious, even if director and writer Jordan Peele of Key & Peele overlaid this stimulating social comedy on a familiar Old Dark House template.

Photographer Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) goes out to the country with his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), to meet her parents. When he gets to their secluded estate, there is something more than slightly off: the black servants practically genuflect. The psychiatrist mom (Catherine Keener, more alluring than ever in this witchy part) is eager to try out her hypnosis techniques on this new subject. Chris fails to heed the telephoned-in warnings of his best pal, a TSA agent (Lil Rel Howery). The film just percolates along from there.

The superb Betty Gabriel reveals almost David Lynch levels of uncanniness as the strangely faithful maid. Erika Alexander comes in strong with the comedy relief, as a detective listening to the wild tale so far.

Soundtrack composer Michael Abels celebrates Bernard Herrmann's legacy to cinema, which not only heightens the mood but keeps the ghastliness of the tale from being overwhelming.

Get Out not only amuses, but it makes its important point with deftness: watch it, and see the too-white world as a member of a hunted minority would see it, listening to the idiot clichés meant to make people docile. (Rose's liberal dad, played with impressive beigeness by Bradley Whitford, even swears he would have voted for Obama a third time.)

Kaluuya ought to be a star for the tenderness and grit he brings to this part. Get Out is an unlikely success. It could have gone wrong in a hundred ways, but it's an invigorating entertainment with a subtext worth mulling over.

'Get Out' is playing in wide release in the North Bay.

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