“Get Out” can be described in two words: tense and hilarious. And the combination of the two is unsurprising due to the comedic mastermind of Jordan Peele, the director, producer, and writer, of the nightmarish subject matter. Peele is known for the critically acclaimed television show, “Key & Peele,” where he wrote and starred in satirical skits. “Get Out” is his latest venture that explores his dark side. Set in a modern day America filled with racial tension, Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya), a young black male, goes with his white girlfriend Rose Armitage (Allison Williams) to stay at her parent’s estate for a weekend. The Armitage family acts rigid and awkward, and Chris coolly plays this off as their way of easing into the fact that he is an African American, but he soon finds out that there is a lot more to their behavior than meets the eye.
“Get Out” is not a traditional horror film full of pop-up scares and paranormal activity. As a matter of fact, it surpasses the frightening elements of these conventional movies by replacing it with ideologies and behavior that are still prevalent, especially in white, rural communities. The underlying ideas of racial supremacy are evident, but it may surprise the viewer as to how these beliefs are held and shared within the Armitage family, as well as their affluent friends and relatives.
Sprinkled in with the horrifying events is the social commentary that acknowledges the different ways white Americans speak and act towards African Americans. For example, Rose’s father, Dean Armitage (Bradley Whitford), attempts to make conversation with Chris by stating that he would have voted for Barack Obama for a third term if he could. By unknowingly and habitually steering the conversation about a certain African American figure, whites isolate the other person by talking about a topic that is based on that person’s race and not on mutual interest. This behavior is reminiscent of the treatment of other minorities making it relatable to a diverse audience, specifically people of color who have experienced these types of conversations.
The film provides a balance between its social commentary and horrifying scenes by adding comedic relief in the form of Rodney “Rod” Williams (Lil Rel Howery). Rodney not only acts as the sounding board of Chris as he goes through the motions of being in the estate. He is also able to make the audience breathe a sigh of relief and laugh as he aims to find out the mysteries that lie behind the seemingly innocent Armitage family.
Although the film’s script, cinematography, background music, and editing were spot on, it could not have been as authentic and enjoyable without the acting genius of Kaluuya and Williams. One of the most iconic and terrifying scenes is when Washington is being hypnotized by Rose’s mother, Missy Armitage (Catherine Keener), and is pushed into the “sunken place,” which is a remote space in one’s mind where the hypnotist can put you as they control your actions. This scene illustrates the unbelievable talent of Kaluuya because he had to remain perfectly still with wide, unblinking eyes as tears rolled down his cheeks. In combination with his expression that exposed his various feelings of horror, panic, and confusion, the scene captures what anyone would feel if someone tried to manipulate their mind.
“Get Out” is a must see unconventional horror film that does not only expose the inequalities in social behavior, while invoking a sense of terror. It also surprises the viewer with its ending that places them in a state of confusion and misery as they plan for their second viewing.
Staff Writer Janica Mendillo