By Jason Abdow
A question that came to my mind while leaving the movie theater was, what is the purpose of a horror film? To scare you, obviously, but is there anything else the movie can do to stand out in a creative way? “Get Out” answers this question by proving to be one of the most unique films in its genre. Not only does “Get Out” deliver in providing thrills but also takes it a step further and provides some incredible social commentary as well as some genuine comedy.
The story, on the surface, seems like a fairly standard horror plot. We follow a young interracial couple, Chris and Rose (Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams) as they go up to Rose’s family’s estate for the weekend, where things seem to be mysterious. You could think of it as the horror equivalent to “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” where the awkward interactions between our African-American protagonist and the rest of Rose’s white family are definitely intentionally pushed to the forefront.
While this initial setup might seem a little heavy-handed in its social commentary, writer/director Jordan Peele (“Key and Peele”) is incredibly smart with his execution of this film, subtly foreshadowing and using clever imagery throughout. Even the opening credits accomplish this by using Childish Gambino’s “Redbone,” a song that is about feeling paranoid about the intentions of your lover and consistently uses the line “stay woke” in its chorus. Not only does the song remarkably parallel the themes of the movie but that line “stay woke” fits with Kaluuya’s character, who is always skeptical about what is going on in the film. This is just one of dozens of examples of this I could use of how intricately this film is crafted.
Peele’s script was also much smarter than I was expecting it to be. Tackling social issues involving race in any movie, let alone a horror film, is tricky. Often a movie will either make racism appear in an over-the-top unrealistic way or just sticks to a general formula that can work in certain films. What makes “Get Out” so affective is how it steps away from this formula. This is because it views racism in a way that few movies do. It does not go after and critique your typical outwardly racist scum, but instead points the finger at what Peele referred to as racism amongst the “liberal elite,” or people who try hard not to be racist to the point they indeed are racist.
This can be seen in several interactions between Chris and Rose’s family members. Either when Rose’s father (Bradley Whitford) tells him he would have voted for Obama a third time or another house guest tells him that black is “in fashion” now, this can clearly and uncomfortably be seen. It’s this idea of people overtly trying to pandering to Chris as a black man and not a normal human that drives the racial themes of the film. And even with these critiques on race relations being crystal clear, the film does not make the mistake of vilifying characters purely on their race, coming across far more honest than offensive.
As could be expected with Jordan Peele, the movie has its comedic moments sprinkled. The comedy does not come in the form of jokes, but instead is found in the discomfort of these interactions. The main source for comedic relief comes from Lil Rel Howery, who plays Chris’s friend Rod. Howery is naturally hilarious in his delivery, but fulfills a much more important role in the film. Not only is he comedic relief but he is the voice of the audience. He is the one who tells Chris how crazy everything is and how he should leave, which is exactly how the audience will feel during the movie.
But there is one question I know everyone will be thinking: Is the movie scary? In short, yes. It does not follow your typical horror tropes, aside from a few jump scares, of supernatural and surreal imagery. Instead, the horror can be found in the tension of everything. You know the entire time that something is not right and once the film reveals what is actually happening, it is disturbing to say the least. It is not the kind of horror movie that will make you be afraid of the dark but instead make you cautious of the people around you, which I would say is just as, if not more, terrifying.
If you are a typical fan of scary/suspenseful movies, watch “Get Out” immediately. If you saw the trailer and thought it looked like something you might enjoy, go see it. This is a movie that needs to be seen in a theater with a group of people to really capture all of the emotions. In my theater, the audience was glued to the screen the entire time and we all interacted with all the plot twists with audible shocks. By the time the movie ended, everyone was clapping and clearly in love with what had just unfolded. It is one of those rare movies that pleases everyone while still having the ambition to include touchy social issues. I cannot recommend this movie enough, as “Get Out” is easily the best film I have seen from 2017 so far.