This past weekend saw the opening of Jordan Peele’s directorial debut. The film, Get Out, has been receiving rave reviews, even holding a coveted perfect 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes for the weekend. I saw the film in a theater filled with mostly black patrons, and I honestly think that my experience of viewing the film with the particular crowd of people with whom I did gave me a perspective that I would not have gotten had I watched it alone. This really helped emphasize the importance of the film’s release.
Get Out is a horror film that centers around the topic of racism in today’s society. The most interesting thing about the portrayal of racism is the way that it is shown to be reciprocated by those who seem to be actively working against the historical sense of the term. A young black man, Chris (played by Daniel Kaluuya), is brought to the home of his white girlfriend, Rose (played by Allison Williams), to meet her parents, Dean and Missy (played by Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener). We watch as the couple make their way from the urban setting of Chris’ apartment to the rural mansion owned by Dean and Missy. The couple are self-proclaimed liberals; Dean makes a comment about how he would have voted a third time for President Obama. This comment, along with others made by house guests throughout the weekend, exemplify the current state of how white Americans treat black Americans; the uncomfortable forcing of knowledge and “being hip to” black culture and figures, in a more or less condescending tone. Being a white American for the entirety of my life, I do not by any means feel that I am one to speak on behalf of black Americans and their feelings toward the current sociopolitical climate of our country. However, I do feel that I am able to take the perspective of a human being, and realize that what has been historically an issue of oppression and mistreatment of the black community by my fellow melanin-deficient homo sapiens, has not been eradicated. This film shows how the racial divide is still very alive and how it has taken a different form from the slurs and violence that have been enforced from previous generations. I will refrain from spoilers, because the turns the film takes are spectacular, but the issue of “postmodern racism” is definitely a key factor in the terror that ensues.
I take pride in my self-proclaimed title of a horror junkie, and I love to see progress in all forms of art, but it especially strikes my fancy when it comes in the form of horror. Jordan Peele’s Get Out is not only a very relevant kickstarter to a serious social conversation that we, as Americans need to engage with, it also functions extremely well as a piece of horror cinema. The narrative twists and visual representations of isolation and terror are handled extremely well, especially given the director’s well known history of comedy.
Get Out is nothing short of a masterpiece of cinema. It tackles issues that very much need to be addressed and talked about. It also shows that, as a genre, horror is still very effective and can be done extremely well when in the hands of a proficient filmmaker. I was sincerely impressed with Peele’s debut, and with the critical and commercial success of his first film, we can be assured that we will get much more from him, and I for one am very excited.
Here is a link to an interview with Criterion where Jordan Peele discussed his horror influences.
Check out the trailer and go see Get Out now. Like, right now.
-By Kirk Yoshonis