Get Out ★★★

It’s never a good sign when Catherine Keener is the scariest thing in your horror movie, but if “Get Out” isn’t half as scary as the ideas that inspired it, Jordan Peele’s directorial debut is almost certain to be the boldest — and most important — studio genre release of the year. What it lacks in fear, it nearly makes up for in fearlessness.

When Hollywood wants to talk about race, it’s usually an inspirational film, set at some point in the past, that sparks discussion. It doesn’t matter if that setting is the 19th century, the civil rights movement, or even sometime last week; it’s any time that isn’t right this moment. Stories of injustice are always more comfortable being watched over your shoulder, so these films bring a wedge of distance so that (white) audiences don’t feel implicated in the on-screen suffering. “Get Out,” however, feels no such obligations. A broadly commercial horror comedy about a black guy trying to survive his first weekend with his white girlfriend’s family, it’s locked in the present, it’s about race, and — more than that — it’s about how it can’t not be about race.

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