Just going to give you a warning. This is a review where a white guy is going to talk about racism. Well that’s about half of you gone, but what do you expect? The horror genre has had a long history with depicting racism, and being racist themselves. This was the genre that handed a black man the leading role in an iconic film decades before Hollywood, but also the one that became a joke for killing black characters first. But Get Out isn’t a film that is just going to just touch on racist themes, it’s going to go full out and make it a central part of the movie. Can it pull it off?
Chris (Daniel Kaluuya, Sicario) is set to meet his girlfriend Rose’s (Allison Williams, Girls) parents for the first time and is nervous, mainly due to the fact he is black and is dating a white girl. While Rose eases his fears of this, his nerves come back when he meets some of the other black people that live in his partner’s parents’ town who appear to be a bit off.
Yeah so let’s get that racism talk out of the way. The genius of the film, and it’s main strength, is the commentary about racial commentary present throughout. And it’s not just the little touches, like early on in the movie where Chris and Rose hit a deer, and the police officer that attends the scene asks for his driving license, even though he wasn’t driving. No, it’s throughout the movie and even though this is a completely out there horror movie with some completely crazy turns, it really does hit a nerve with some of the racism it depicts. And this is coming from a white person who only knows about racism from reading about it rather than experiencing it himself.
The reason this hits harder is that the director Jordan Peele (First Feature Film) doesn’t go for the easy targets. He could easily make this town into a redneck haven with all the citizens being openly hostile to Chris while tossing out the n word like it’s a Quentin Tarantino film, but Peele instead attacks liberal racism. What I mean by this are the well intending people who would tell you that they are resolutely anti-racist, but inadvertently say racist things and just make black people’s lives a bit worse with their well-intentionness. There’s a killer line in the movie which describes the sort of person Peele is going for here, with Rose’s dad Dean (Bradley Whitford, The West Wing) declaring that he would vote for Obama a third time if he could. This is the sort of commentary and attack you don’t usually get in Hollywood movies, because it’s usually this sort directing.
But while the commentary on liberal racism, god that phrase sounds like something an alt-right blog would come up with and I apologise for that, and how this enhances the plot is what takes this movie to the next level, you are here for the thrills and spills. The twists and turns in the plot, alongside the actual horror. Firstly, the plot is expertly done. This is an incredibly well drawn out plot and the fact it comes from a guy who has been doing sketch comedy (Peele wrote as well as directed) for most of his career is stunning. People who have written thrillers all their life haven’t been able to come up with something just as well orchestrated in their entire careers, never mind their first time doing something like this. While you can guess the twists, they are well done and on a re-watch, you can see all the breadcrumbs Peele has laid out. I’m just in awe of how well put together it is.
And the atmosphere is great as well. Even when this film seems more like a re-make of Look Who’s Coming To Dinner than it does an horror film, it all feels incredibly off. The brilliant score right from the opening credits tell you that you are not in for an easy time with this movie, and you get the feeling that you are going to die even when the family are just having dinner. Though that might be because Jeremy’s (Caleb Landry Jones, Antiviral) UFC talk will actually kill you with the awkwardness it creates. He’s an excellent frat boy douche by the way, one you really want to punch.
Unfortunately the film is not perfect. While I praised the plot earlier, I do feel like the ending is a bit too perfect, a bit too easy. I believe that it would actually better if it delved completely into darkness and went with a properly twisted ending, much like The Stepford Wives which this movie took some inspiration from. Also, while this is a horror movie, it never outright scares you. It will creep you out, it will make you squirm in your chair with the uncomfortable atmosphere it creates, but it never outright terrifies you. This is more a flaw of the advertising really, it’s more of an dark thriller than the horror that we were told it was, but it’s the sort of nitpicking I have to do to find a flaw in this movie.
Get Out does that brilliant thing of being able to combine a great theme and message, something that will resonate with you hours after the movie along with a very creepy thriller that has all the twists and turns you want from this sort of film. It makes an original point about racism while also having you on the edge of your seat wanting to know the secret behind this town and Rose’s family. That makes it a truly great film and a must watch.