Get Out Is A Must-See Horror (And Social) Masterpiece

February 27, 2017  |  

Photo: Universal Pictures

With biting wit, genuine terrors and a shockingly relevant plot, “Get Out” is without question one of the most inspired movies of 2017. Comedian Jordan Peele’s directorial debut perfectly mixes horror genre terrors and surprises with a biting social commentary on racial relations in a way that feels authentic despite its theatrical exaggerations.

The movie tells the story of Black photographer Chris Washington (played by an incredible Daniel Kaluuya) and his white girlfriend Rose Armitage (played by “Girls” star Allison Williams) as they journey to Rose’s hometown to meet her parents. Though Rose attempts to reassure Chris that her parents won’t have an issue with their interracial relationship, Chris isn’t as confident. Still, he relents and they jump into their car for a weekend getaway. Upon arriving at the Armitage’s sprawling home, it becomes clear that the only people of color in the family’s orbit seem to be two servants: Groundskeeper Walter and maid Georgina. The introduction to the Armitage family is one rife with the sort of discomfort that many in interracial relationships can easily relate to.

Peele masterfully shows the compulsion among white people to hammer home their “color-blindness” or support of Black people through comments like: “I would have voted for Obama for a third term if I could have.” While the sentiment may be well-intentioned, the comments made by Rose’s parents, Dean and Missy, come off as desperate attempts to relate to someone they clearly don’t know how to relate to. While Rose is outraged by some of her parents’ behavior, Chris is barely phased as he’s seen this behavior before. Rose’s whiteness may have insulated her from racial dynamics, but Chris is all too familiar with them.

As the movie progresses, viewers are treated to a barrage of these sort of interactions that for Black audience members will feel humorously familiar, and for white audience members might be a bit eye-opening. But the absurdity of these uncomfortable moments slowly gives way to something that feels far more sinister. The longer Chris stays at the Armitage’s home, the more he begins to realize that there is something terribly wrong. His interactions with the few other Black people in the area are painfully awkward and bizarre. As he looks to them as an outlet, as a nice departure from the lily white world around him, each person of color he interacts with seems to be completely unable to relate to him or even interact in a coherent way.

This culminates in a truly frightening scene when Chris, after being asked by a group of white people (and one Asian man) to explain the Black experience (because, of course, that’s what you do at a fun, party gathering) asks the only other Black guest in attendance, Logan, to take that one. As Logan begins to tiptoe around the question, displaying a strange desire to pacify the white people around him, Chris snaps a photo of Logan on this phone. The flash seems to awaken something in Logan, a blood-curdling terror and he charges at Chris screaming the movie’s namesake: “Get out!” Logan is then escorted into a room in the Armitage’s home and emerges a few minutes later seemingly back to his old docile self.

From that point on Chris is done playing nice and tells Rose that it’s time for them to leave this place. However, things hardly go as planned.

From the introductory credits to the final scene, Jordan Peele does a phenomenal job taking a harsh look at white liberalism and the notions of a post-racial society. While the Obama presidency marked a beautiful chapter in race relations, to think that voting into office the first Black commander-in-chief dissipated long-standing racism was foolish. The film takes direct aim at white liberals who feign “understanding the struggle,” but continue to fall into age-old stereotypes and biased tendencies. In our post-Obama world, one in which an administration with clearly hostile intentions toward people of color has taken over the White House, the movie feels more relevant than ever. It puts on full display the fear of brown people across this country in a way that will (hopefully) resonate with white audiences as well.

“Get Out” has a hint of “Stepford Wives” to it, but it takes that spirit of social commentary in horror to a more profound and effective degree. As the “Stepford Wives” shone a light on sexism and the desire of men to suppress female empowerment, so does “Get Out” shine a light on racism and the false notion that we’ve moved beyond seeing color, particularly in liberal, elite areas. As Peele told audience members when he presented the film at Sundance earlier this year: “It was important to me for this movie not to be about this Black guy going to the South, to a red state, where the presumption for a lot of people is that everybody’s racist there. This was really meant to take a stab at the liberal elite that tends to believe that they’re – we’re – above these things.”

And if there is one thing that “Get Out” accomplishes, it’s shattering that notion into a million jagged pieces.

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