Quick Hit: Racial message isn’t hidden at all, but it doesn’t come across too strongly, and manages to hold onto its horror tropes to be a very strong debut.
I originally remember the first time I read about Get Out. I think it was on Cracked.com, where they run a serious about WTF movies that are coming out. When you think about Jordan Peele, you don’t necessarily think an intelligent horror thriller, because he has been so successful at comedy. However, Peele’s writer/director debut turns out to be one of the greatest horror movies I’ve seen in recent years – a smart retelling of some classic horror stories, now with a racial twist.
The film follows Chris (played by David Kaluuya of the terrific Merits episode of Black Mirror) and his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) as they travel out of the big city to visit her parents, Dean and Missy Armitage (played by Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener respectively). Chris’s main concern is that he’s black and Rose hasn’t mentioned it to her parents. After some smoothing over, Chris goes along and is eventually welcomed into the Armitage home with open arms. Sure, Dean is a bit of a covert racist, what with his constant use of “brotha” and references to famous black people, but it’s written off as harmless.
The movie really picks up with the hypnosis of Chris, and the overall feeling of wrongness that has permeated everything. This includes the only other black people there, who happen to be housekeeper and groundskeeper. It looks bad, and their behavior makes it seem even worse. The casual racism seems to be escalating throughout, with some people being as bold as to grab Chris’s muscles and speak to his genetic makeup. Throughout, the sense of race is pervading and is genuinely uncomfortable throughout, particularly as the fabled privelged white male. It speaks true because we’ve all seen people do that exact thing.
While all this social commentary and horror tropes (because Peele never loses sight of the fact that this is indeed a horror film) is going on, there’s also one of the best supporting characters in the history of horror. His name is Rod Williams and he is played by LilRel Howery. Rod is Chris’s best friend, a TGA agent, and absolutely hilarious. He provides the tension break throughout the entire film, and also is the audience stand-in. At times, he is voicing exactly what the audience is thinking, and that’s why I personally love horror films – characters are even more encouraged to do that.
I spoke briefly to the horror tropes – Get Out follows the formula that several thrillers have before it. The opening scene, which instantly calls to mind some of the racial fueled shootings and killings, finds a man being kidnapped violently. There are frequently people appearing out of nowhere – including one scene at night with a man running full out and referring to it later as “his exercise”. By maintaining these and the comedy, Peele has created something that is extremely elusive – a film with a strong social commentary that isn’t just a sermon – it’s an entertaining message to all that watch.
That’s why I’m giving the film an “A”.
For more on this movie check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"