Where does one begin with Get Out? I feel as if I can’t even put much together in terms of a critical analysis since I am, hours later, still trying not to stumble over my thoughts as to what all of it means. This alone is one reason that makes this feature, written and directed by Jordan Peele, a must-see – even if you are not a fan of the horror genre.
As was brought up to me earlier today in a conversation with a friend, Get Out has carved out a space in the horror genre which has been the often abandoned or forgotten for the splashier (pun intended) torture porn of recent years. Get Out is a psychological trip that serves as an allegory; in other words, it is not horror for the sake of horror. And that – at the end of the day – is what makes it so terrifying. It is telling us a story that is a glimpse into our own realities, whether we fully realize it or not.
As a critique of race relations in America, this film is a clear rebuke of how we engage and interact with one another cross-culturally, particularly when African Americans enter predominantly white spaces. In that way, Peele gives equal presentation – from trading in racial stereotypes, to the supposed more enlightened or “liberal stance” some might take. This latter attitude is most pronounced in the presentation of the protagonist Chris’ (Daniel Kaluuya) girlfriend’s parents, played by Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener. They are so “down,” they would have voted for Obama a third time (insert chuckle here).
But let me pause – I am getting a little ahead of myself.
From the outset, Peele frames the story by starting with a (seemingly unconnected) breadcrumb that will have some payoff a little later in the story. After this cold open, we are introduced to Chris, a young, successful photographer who is about to embark on a weekend trip to meet the aforementioned parents of his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams). Chris and Rose’s interaction includes some cute and ultimately benign dialogue where they make light of the racial dynamics of their relationship.
As I write this out, that is actually kind of where I want to leave things, plot-wise, if I am honest. Establishing that Chris and Rose are headed from the city to her parents’ crib out in the ‘burbs is enough of a setup in my opinion. Mainly because you know that things are going to take a decidedly dark turn and likely spiral into a terrifying hellscape – with this being a horror film and all … That said, the journey to this destination is worth it because not only are you getting moments that will offer up a jump scare or two, but woven into the narrative fabric are some light moments, mainly in the form of Chris’ bestie Rod (LilRel Howery). This levity has added another layer to an already entertaining and enthralling piece of filmmaking.
Of course, the centerpiece of all of this is the cleverly constructed allegory which I have previously alluded to. There are moments where it really drives home the effect that these social interactions have on the likes of Chris. One quote in particular, at a point in the story where all is essentially revealed, really is stuck in my head and probably will be there for quite some time. It might be minor in the larger arc of the story, but it is something that really resonates with me.
So as you can tell, I really enjoyed Get Out. With its blend of terror, humor and social commentary, it is an accessible piece of movie making worthy of a look.