Get Out is Important Horror Cinema
Jordan Peele’s directorial debut belongs in the pantheon of classic horror/thriller cinema
Rating — 4 out of 5
Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) is going to meet his girlfriend Rose’s (Allison Williams) parents for the first time. There’s just one catch: Chris is black and the parents are white milquetoast suburbanites. Once Chris meets Mom and Dad (Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford), things seem pleasant enough, aside from the all black staff working for the family.
As the weekend wears on, Chris’s initial hesitance turns to full-blown paranoia as the staff and the parents begin to act strangely. Is Rose’s family just casually racist or is something much more sinister lying underneath?
Well, I mean…yeah, obviously, something more sinister is at work.
I hate using that word “masterpiece,” especially since Get Out is a brand new movie. But this movie is so confident, purposeful, and meaningful, it can’t be ignored.
If this were any other filmmaker, I think people would be hailing the next great new darling. But, since this is comedian Jordan Peele, I think people might just be flabbergasted that this movie would not only be good, but this darn great.
Peele has expertly crafted a story where the big bad is casual racism. Barring the overt racist tones of a Trayvon Martin-esque beginning, the film uses the language of your uncle that just says a bit too much about how not racist he is. As soon as Bradley Whitford goes, “What’s going on, my man?” the tension is high.
The script is tight, the direction unsettling, and the acting wonderfully executed. Peele shows real control of what he’s doing and provides a rare breed of horror film with something very real and very relevant to say.
I like it a bunch and you should too!
Casual Racism as The Big Bad
Get Out is a film told from the black perspective and turns words into tension building weapons. Each phrase uttered by a well-meaning white person is coupled with reaction shots from Chris, who keeps his cool each time. While Rose acts as white liberal outrage, Chris articulates the truth of the situation: this racism is just the way it is for him.
This acceptance of the way of the world is weaponized brilliantly as Chris is thrust into a paranoid thriller. Chris has to keep justifying that nothing is out of the ordinary because being rude could lead to dangerous things. However, the more he says, “I’m fine,” the more hellish the landscape becomes. He cannot win in either scenario, creating a tense rubber band of a film.
The language of this movie is so deliberate, it makes me angry at how great it is. From the “I’m fine” to the awkward celebration of African culture by whites, Get Out commandeers an all-too-familiar dialogue and makes you terrified.
Your Favorite White Character Actors as Freddy and Jason
It’s marvelous that Bradley Whitford has now been in two genuine horror films as villains. His casual, off-the-cuff demeanor from Cabin in the Woods (and, you know, every other thing he’s been) creates a villain you genuinely like at the beginning of Get Out. He’s charming but dorky. When he begins to show his true colors, you are truly terrified.
However, it’s sublime that Catherine Keener is another big bad villain. Her natural kindness is coupled with real gravity, creating a dangerous character that seems uncomfortably familiar. She seems demure, but in charge and wants you to know it.
Together, Whitford and Keener are the perfect choices to play sinister white people.
Kill All The White People!
The film does lower into cliché territory, but the clichés are imbued with a completely different meaning since this film is told from a specifically black perspective. The “hit a wild animal with your car” cliché takes on a whole new meaning as black people are symbolically equated to livestock and carcasses. A dead cell phone becomes an act of passive-aggression by a black maid that may or may not be under the control of the white family.
Most interestingly, the black horror film fan plays a big part of the movie. While Chris is dealing with the actual racism, he often returns to his Greek chorus/friend Rod, who literally spells out all the clichés for him and tells Chris to get out of there with the same aplomb reserved for stereotypes.
Rod’s story turns into pure comedy, often vocalizing exactly what the audience would be saying as he goes to help Chris. It’s a critical broadening of the black experience as Chris works towards taking back his power, working towards total rejection of the white experience.
Make no mistake: this movie is against white people. This is a black film told from a black perspective and articulates in very real terms why black people need to stop saying, “I’m fine” with casual racism. While the movie does veer into some over-the-top beats towards the end, the overall thesis is so resonant, it makes up for any shortcomings.