First-time director Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” is deliciously audacious, blending racial satire with brutal common sense and on-edge terror that is normally not seen in present-day horror films.
Peele, who is well-known for starring in comedic works, tried his hand in writing and directing a movie that depicted tight-lipped racial issues inside the framework of a horror film…with some refreshing and unconventional aspects.
“Get Out” stars English actor Daniel Kaluuya as Chris Washington, a young African American man who visits his Caucasian girlfriend’s family estate after reaching the meet-the-parents milestone in their relationship. Initially, Chris assumes that the family’s over accommodating behavior is an awkward attempt to connect with their daughter’s interracial relationship. However, as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to an unimaginable and terrifying truth.
The acting was on par with the unconventional take on horror movie characters. Kaluuya, despite being English, left absolutely no trace of an accent and did an amazing job depicting a man with emotional layers, intelligence, and authentic feelings of frustration and fear when the circumstances called for it. Rose Armitage (Allison Williams) and her relationship with Chris felt believable. The chemistry is obvious, and when this family get-together suddenly turns into a thriller, movie-goers will actually care more than enough about the couple to root for their survival.
Everyone, even the supporting characters, was great. Each neighbor was borderline psychotic in their own underlined way, ranging from creepy to outright sinister. Lil Rel Howery, as Chris’ TSA friend Rod Williams, was responsible for the comedic relief, stealing the show every time he was on screen. Surprisingly, Rod also embodied a good portion of the common sense in this film, deviating from most horror films that deem African Americans as “the first ones to die” or “the character that makes stupid decisions.” I give props to Peele for not going with this stereotype, and for creating such an unpredictable character in this horror universe.
Speaking of wasting characters, “Get Out” is a response to all of the films that decide to dumb down every character in horror films for the sake of easily killing them off. Fact: People can be pretty idiotic. Another fact: Not everyone is an imbecile. Most films do not realistically reflect the intelligence or common sense of the common man. Movies with stupid characters are beyond tiresome and a waste of time. Movies that actually have thoughtful, complex, and intelligent characters are a breath of fresh air and are more relatable to movie-goers. Get Out answered our prayers by giving us exhilaratingly, smart characters. All of the characters, despite being crazy, had their own level of intelligence that was believable and better reflected society’s melting pot of perceptions.
The cinematography also deserves recognition. Peele masterfully stylized Get Out’s camera angles and shots to illustrate a tone of paranoia, the kind that depicts prey being closely watched by a predator. When Chris and Rose park in front of the estate and greet Missy (Catherine Keener) and Dean (Bradley Whitford), the scene suddenly seems wrong because there are no camera cuts. The long-shot is held for a disturbingly long amount of time and subtly gets farther, as though they are being watched. The lack of cuts cleverly gives off an unnatural vibe, and clues the audience in that whatever goes on in this “picture perfect house” is not as it seems. The lack of closer shots in the film also adds to the abnormalities; it is as if Chris is being studied from afar and as though there is some sort of barrier between Chris and the people that he encounters. But when there are close-up shots, the angle is uncomfortable, complementing the creepy musical score and wide-eyed overly-friendly characters.
Controversy has hounded this film since its release, labeling it as a lackluster attempt to persecute white people. Some critics have slammed the door on this movie, giving it half a star without really analyzing and understanding the film for what it truly is: a social commentary on real world problems that society typically refuses to acknowledge. The fact that this film fearlessly served its audience with relatable and controversial issues concerning racism in an intellectual and creative fashion is what makes this film successful.
“Get Out” modernizes what most people think of racism, pointing out that today’s racism is not always expressed with straight up mockery, white hoods, and Confederate flags. The film introduces us to a more trending version of racism, passive racism, in which discrimination is disguised beneath creepy smiles, subtle inclinations, and highlighting preconceived notions towards a particular group of people. When Chris meets the family and eventually the neighborhood, racial stereotypes directed at Chris coupled with the careful use of sound creates a growing air of something sinister.
What many critics refuse to understand about “Get Out” is that just because the subject of racism is integrated into a story does not mean that it was created to attack a particular race. “Get Out” is not a racist tale. It is film that blends psychological horror (and a hint of humor) with racism as a foundation to tell a story about survival, and at the same time relating with the public about passive aggressive discrimination.
A few issues with the film include the fact that the skeletal deer shown in the trailer was a no-show. I openly despise such false advertising, having something in the trailer that hooks one in to seeing the film, but realizing by the end of the film that the “hook” did not happen. This increasingly frustrating trend can cause audiences to become skeptical of the film, wondering what they were actually being sold. If I cannot trust what is being advertised, why would I go see it?
Another problem with the film concerns the increase in missing persons. I realized that with so many people missing, how is it that none of them had loved ones, like Chris has Rod, to worry, check on them, and call the police, which would lead to the culprits being suspected, investigated, and arrested before the movie even happened.
Despite the advertising issue and plot hole, Peele brilliantly integrated racially satirical situations to further push a plot of terrifying agendas with demented justifications. “Get Out” is supposed to entertain audiences with intelligent characters, eerily sharp horror, and comedic relief, all the while educating society to a new form of racism. The film’s unconventional character dynamics and intellectual prowess teaches other movies to step up their game and that working to surprise movie-goers with originality and boldness can lead to success.
“Get Out” is definitely worth watching.