Get Out is the debut film by director Jordan Peele. Released in 2017, Get Out was met with immediate critical praise. Chaz saw it in the cinema – I did not. So, this was something that needed to be rectified and when better than an October Horror-thon?
I’m not entirely sure that I would call this a horror film. There’s plenty to make you think and it’s very good at making you uncomfortable. How?
It tackles the very real, very current issues that still surround race. As such, the real horror of this film is the strange purgatory where race rations dwell and how people view the discomfort surrounding it; whether it’s open racism, casual racism, people who don’t believe they’re racist but and those who view race as a different thing entirely – something to own and use. This old, terrible and disgusting attitude certainly becomes apparent in moments of the film showing the real horror of white privilege and how dissociative and dangerous it really is.
There are traditional horror elements too; Chris’ battle to ‘get out’ of the house, the psychological trauma he struggles with from the death of his mother, the terror of ‘the sunken place’ and the nightmarish truth of what’s been happening. But we’re jumping ahead here.
Daniel Kaluuya plays Chris, a young black man with an eye for photography and in seemingly strong relationship with his girlfriend, a young white woman named Rose (Allison Williams). Now, I wouldn’t usually see fit to bring up the race of characters, however it’s a prominent plot point of Get Out. So, bear with me here.
Chris has a best friend named Rod (TS MOTHERFUCKIN’ A, played fantastically by Lil Rel Howrey) and an absolutely gorgeous cockerpoo named Sid who is a very good boy throughout the film. This is relevant. Immediately we’re introduced to the fact that Chris being a black man will be a vital part of this story as he brings up the fact that Rose hasn’t told told her parents and brother (played by Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford and Caleb Landry Jones) ahead of their visit.
Upon their arrival it quickly becomes clear that, although cordial, her parents have no idea how to deal with someone of colour who isn’t working for them (both members of their help are black). As Chris navigates his visit with Rose’s family and deals with the unnerving, emptiness in the eyes and voices of the help, everything starts to unravel, and it quickly becomes apparent that the Armitage’s interest in Chris is about to take a turn for the sinister.
So, my thoughts
GOD THIS FILM IS CLEVER. It knows what it is trying to tell us straight off the bat; everyone acts like everything is fine but there’s still an imbalance. There’s still discomfort, and people are still scared. Scared of getting hurt, scared of saying the wrong thing and scared of falling behind.
Chris is a fantastic character. Not only is he likeable, but he’s a man who wants to just get on with his life. He’s a photographer, a modern man, but he’s also caught on the edge, worried about rocking the boat because he doesn’t want any trouble. As the film goes on, he finds himself pushed further and further to the edge until he’s forced to jump off in spectacular, bloody fashion. Rose too is a fantastic, multi-layered character with depth, direction and a breath of fresh air. The family are also brilliant, though obviously up to no good from the off. This all comes down to the script.
Peele’s dialogue is a delight – highlights include early conversation between Rod and Chris, making their friendship seem real and showcasing Rod as the best part of the film. Choice words and phrases used throughout also give subtle hints and clues as to what’s coming for Chris, a favourite was Rose’s use of ‘They are not racist’ and another was ‘It’s a privilege to experience other people’s culture’. Every single sentence was crafted carefully and deliberately.
Just like the music. The score in this film is excellent – so much so I’ll probably be hoping on Spotify to listen to it all over again. From 30s show tunes to disembodied chanting, there’s always something catching you off guard. Whenever a character is out of place, the music is too. The only time that a song feels natural is when Chris is comfortable and safe in his own home. It’s simple, effective and a touch of genius.
The main theme I garnered from the film is that of living life through a lens. Chris is a photographer, viewing subjects through a camera almost allows him to disassociate from them, no matter how brutal or upsetting they might be. When in the ‘sunken place’ he sees the world as if viewing a television (this is another recurring theme throughout Get Out) like how he did when his mother died. Every time he receives pieces of the plot, its either through a television screen or through photography. The people who have been affected by the Armitage family are also forced to see life through a pinhole. How black people are viewed is through a hungry, envious and woefully out of touch eye. The man who wants to use Chris is blind and wants his artistic eye.
Eventually, when Chris is forced to escape out, he comes out from behind the lens and is forced to confront reality head on, for all its violent, unaccepting and possessive evils. It’s all woven together beautifully and is constructed to tell us that this is real. Just because you see it through a TV, or a camera doesn’t mean you’re not affected.
It’s simple genius.
Now, to round up…
The entire cast is terrific here and not a foot is put wrong. I believed every single character, they all felt genuine in their roles and I cared about the outcome of Chris and how he was affected by those around him.
The plot is tight for the most part though a sudden reveal later on during an exposition tape seemed a bit out of left field and didn’t really add anything to the plot (I won’t reveal it here, but will happily discuss with others if they want to talk about it!). Aesthetically its gorgeous, especially the effects used for the ‘sunken place’. There are some fun subversions of plot at the end of the film which I particularly enjoyed, and it was wonderful to see a film where everything is tidied up with no sequel baiting whatsoever.
Get Out is funny, its self-aware and one of the most intelligent films I’ve seen in a long time.
The main lesson we need to take from this film is that Jordan Peele is a gift. I watched Us in the cinema not long ago and thoroughly enjoyed it (even though it was a bit more ham-fisted with its themes and message than Get Out) so I’m glad that I also enjoyed this. I look forward to seeing where he goes next. Oh, and the other less is – always listen to Rod. He is smart, he’s aware and he might just save your ass from weird old white people.
I thoroughly enjoyed this and would happily watch it again for the fun of it.
Tomorrow in a switch up (because Jennifer’s Body hasn’t arrived yet!) I’ll be reviewing Behind the Mask; the Rise of Leslie Vernon. Thanks for reading, let me know your thoughts in the comments and I look forward to tomorrow!