As at odds as they may initially appear, comedy and horror share a lot of DNA, particularly in their reliance on timing to evoke a physical response. A pause can either prolong the tension or make a simple sentence even funnier. Rhythm lets the audience know what to expect — or throws them off intentionally, creating an even bigger reaction. A scene — or entire film — may deliver its laughs or frights sparingly at first, only to increase momentum in its final moments. But even with all that said, the horror movie “Get Out” still feels like a revelation coming from sketch comedian and first-time director Jordan Peele. This satire is a masterful exercise in tension that doesn’t shy away from brutal violence, but it always knows exactly when to break that anxiety and terror with a perfectly executed joke.
In its five seasons of sketches, “Key And Peele” never hesitated to go dark, and that instinct serves Peele well here in his first film behind the camera. Many of the show’s funniest bits had an undercurrent that revealed the worst of humanity, at once heightening the humor as well as causing the themes to linger. Peele and his co-creator Keegan-Michael Key attacked a variety of targets over nearly 300 sketches, but the comedy was best known for — and best at — its skewering of racial prejudice. “Get Out” continues that work, without ever feeling like a rehash of what fans have previously seen.