Get Out (2017)

brooke There are precious few horror films that I’ve gotten excited about, and fewer I’ll watch more than once, but I think I’m going to add Get Out to my rotation.

casey It’s my favorite not-exactly-horror movie since Cabin in the Woods, for a lot of the same reasons.

brooke And it’s gaining praise from a lot of people, so let’s heap on some more!

casey I’d say Get Out is a modern update of Look Who’s Coming to Dinner crossed with The Stepford Wives and many classic horror tropes, which are often deployed in a way that’s slyly funny. It follows Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), a young man preparing to meet the family of his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) for first time. She assures him that even though he’s black and they’re very white, it won’t be an issue: her dad would’ve voted for Obama a third time (and he will definitely tell you, she notes dryly). But as the visit commences, Chris notices that something about the family is decidedly off in ways that go beyond their sometimes naive and clumsy, but seemingly well-intentioned, interactions with him. For example, what’s with the two black servants? And why do the few black people around seem so robotic? Why does Rose’s mother seem so eager to test her professional hypnotherapy on Chris?

brooke It’s got a strong comedic sensibility thanks to director Jordan Peele (of Key & Peele fame, which comes through when the family holds a party at their home. All of these old white people come over and say things to Chris, like how strong or fast he is, or joke to his face about the rumors that black men are better at sex. You know, those things that aren’t necessarily racist but that are definitely uncomfortable, and it’s the kind of comedy that you laugh at but kinda feel bad because you know this actually happens to people.

casey Of course, it turns out there is something more nefarious going on behind the scenes, and I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that it basically takes the subtext and makes it a literal threat, right through the wonderfully violent finale. Yes, the nice white liberals really are monsters, and yes, Chris should have listened to his friend Rodney back home and gotten the hell out of there immediately. Obviously, the commentary on race is impossible to miss; Get Out is not exactly trying to be I Am Not Your Negro but the two aren’t unrelated; the movie unwaveringly depicts a black perspective on the dangers, real and perceived, of white suburbia, which in real life isn’t exactly a joke.

brooke There is an early scene where Rose hits a deer driving to her parents’ house, and the cop sent to help asks for Chris’s license. That interaction helps create the general tone that the white world is not built to be kind to black humans, and also sets up a great parallel scene that I won’t spoil.
The racial tension throughout the movie is palpable and Peele plays with it using horror tropes, perhaps most interestingly via the servants. Even after showing that the whites are the ones to be afraid of, he uses the black servants, Georgina (Betty Gabriel) and Walter (Marcus Henderson), to prey on audience expectations that the background characters might be the ones behind the whole thing.

casey I also like the moments between the couple, as Rose seems to recognize some of Chris’s moment to moment complaints while remaining blind to how fundamentally off-kilter things really are. Also, best friend Rodney (LilRel Howery) gets a hilarious scene where, worried that Chris has been abducted by an underground sex slavery ring, he takes his concerns to the police only to be laughed out of the station by several black officers.
Basically, Get Out just works very well in all facets, although I have a few small complaints: one character undergoes a complete character shift near the end that feels a bit overdone, and in general I wouldn’t have minded more straight-up horror and scares.

brooke Yeah, I had braced myself for a lot more horror. And some of the horror elements definitely carry Peele’s sense of humor in them, making them as funny they are frightening.
I would also like to nitpick at Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones), Rose’s VERY odd brother. He swoops in as some kind of cross between a protective older brother, a stalker, and a sociopath. By the time he enters the scene, we know that Chris is a little uncomfortable but mostly okay with the situation and Jeremy’s presence is off-putting in a far more aggressive way than the rest of the family members are.

casey It’s an odd performance even within the movie’s universe. In any case, I enjoyed Get Out a whole lot and would recommend it to anyone: It’s smart, a bit scary, and a very entertaining mixture of horror, social commentary, and comedy, in that order.

brooke Its representation of benevolent racism is the best I’ve seen, especially for a major picture, and the movie delivers a solid message while still being hilarious and an a decent suspense/thriller/horror film.

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