Saturday, January 20, 2018

Get Out (2017) Defines What The Horror Genre is All About

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures
Horror movies are a great opportunity for people to confront their fears, either imagined or real. Putting bigotry at the center of his stunning debut, director and writer Jordan Peele churns out a smart, scary, and relevant thriller with Get Out.

Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) is about to meet his girlfriend’s family for the first time in their secluded home far from the city. There's a slight catch: Rose Armitrage (Allison Williams) is white, and didn’t tell her parents that Chris is black. Though she tries to reassure him that everything will be fine, Chris discovers a disturbing family secret that shows their true colors.

Ignorance and prejudice permeates all the time on the news, social media, and everyday life. The system has us so conditioned to treat people as if they’re invisible for simply trying to live their life like anyone else, except for what they’re stigmatized against: their gender, sexuality, religious preferences, and more specifically here, the color of Chris’s skin. To racists, in this case the Armitrage family, it’s the definitive feature. Chris becomes a featured attraction at the family get-together; he's on display for the whole world (us) to see, but also invisible to this family who views him as commodity, to be taken advantaged of. 

Brilliantly, Peele uses social and racial fears, being the outsider, to trap us inside the house with Chris as his girlfriend’s family downright don’t know how to treat him as a human being other than for his skin color. They try to be colorblind but can’t see beyond a person’s skin. They think people are special tokens of wokeness, inserting culture to prove they're 'down' with others who are different than them. They think to insert points of the other person’s supposed culture is to be seen as inclusive; everything they try to do to not seem racist is actually racist. While there are a few good jump-scares throughout, its Peele's acknowledgement of systematic racism, white girl womanhood (I'm a white woman and trying not to be fake-woke here), appropriation, slavery, police brutality, and interracial relationships that offers the real suspense and horror. He weaves imagery and metaphors throughout that movie that are never too obvious to be obnoxiously on the nose or too subtle to be overlooked to create a terrifying atmosphere.

For everything Peele packs into the movie, it has a definitive balance of not drawing the lines between audiences, to not inundate people of color with experiences they've already had or alienate white audiences. Its ambition is empathy, like any other movie, to put you into a character's shoes, identifying with being 'the other' and how that plays into the collective whole. With a fairly unrecognizable cast at the helm, Peele churns out amazing performances with his actors. Commenting too much on the stars might give too much away, so Daniel and Allison are sublime, carrying the movie with a supporting cast that offers the right amount of hostility and creepiness.

Mixing Guess Who's Coming to Dinner with Hitchcockian suspense, the writing and direction of Get Out is downright brilliant. Easily, the movie feels claustrophobic because it subtly drops us into Chris’s shoes, letting the story mirror society. It divulges horror to re-affirm the terrors Peele and people of color experience, allowing satire and symbolism to call out the absurd real world. Stunningly building suspense, the story feels like it’s going in one direction, only to turn the tables around and venture elsewhere, making you feel like there is no escape. Peele's honest work here exposes that how too many people never do.

Rating: ★★★
Have you seen Get Out? What did you think?

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