By Brendan Foster
“I don’t trust white people anymore.”
That was my Puerto Rican friend’s reaction to comedian Jordan Peele’s directorial debut Get Out, a horror movie about anti-black racism and the many harmless and less-than-harmless forms it takes in everyday life. It’s one of the most unique concepts for a horror movie I’ve seen. Nevertheless, I didn’t have high hopes for it going in.
Get Out tells the story of Chris, a black photographer who heads up to his white girlfriend Rose’s parents’ house for the weekend during their annual get-together. As time goes on, more and more odd things happen as Chris gets more suspicious, until an incredible plot reveals itself.
I’m a big fan of Key and Peele, but I think, and I don’t mean to generalize here, all modern horror movies are terrible. There are a few exceptions, like last year’s Don’t Breathe, that showed signs that the genre was not completely dead, but overall we usually go a really long time between great horror movies, like 2014’s The Babadook. Get Out, on the other hand, gives me hope that the genre might be coming back after all. It’s a creepy, smart and at times really funny movie, and unlike other modern horror movies, it doesn’t rely on cheap jumpscares, but its atmosphere and performances.
English actor Daniel Kaluuya does an excellent job of playing an average, scared, vulnerable man trying to make sense of the terrifying situation he finds himself in, as well as not be bothered by various white characters’ rude, subtly racist comments. Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener do a great job portraying Rose and her family, characters who at one moment are only harmlessly awkward and at another, extremely creepy. My favorite performance was Lil Rel Howley’s absolutely hilarious turn as Chris’ best friend Rod, who stole every scene he was in and allowed Peele to show off his comedic roots. And like I said before, Get Out, is not only terrifying and funny, it’s a surprisingly smart movie.
I can’t really get into the full racial commentary without verging into spoiler territory, but I can say that the amount of racial symbolism and allusions to slavery packed into this movie is huge. You would have to watch it several times to catch everything.
Through these layers, you ultimately see Peele’s individual voice coming through. From the annoying but harmless racism, such as Rose’s dad insisting he would have voted Obama for a third term, to the less harmless, such as a white cop asking for Chris’ ID despite him not being the one driving, I wouldn’t be surprised if Peele pulled all the rude comments Chris gets directly from his own experience, especially since he himself is biracial and married to a white woman. Despite this, Peele’s message can get through to pretty much anyone, regardless of their race or opinion on it.
It probably won’t change your mind either on whether or not we really live in a post-racial America, but if you can understand what Peele is saying, you will see it very clearly.
I give Get Out an 8/10.
Photo credit to Jordan Peele