Get Out - Jordan Peele
To say I was excited for this movie is an overstatement. I like Jordan Peele’s work in select Key and Peele segments, and Keanu is decent despite a few scenes. Judging from the trailer, Get Out looked like a run of the mill horror film with a racial spin, so when reviews started pouring out with wide support, scoring 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, it was surprising. But what really shocked me was Criterion posting an interview with Peele. The only other instances that come to mind where Criterion covered a film in theaters were Oscar-winning Moonlight and one of my favorite horror films, The Witch.
Get Out follows Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) on a trip to his girlfriend’s parents house. He’s apprehensive about meeting her parents, mainly because of their reaction when they find out he’s black. When the moment comes, Chris is welcomed with open arms. There are a few questionable comments here and there between these liberal parents, brushed off as harmless mistakes. It isn’t until Chris starts talking to the groundskeeper and cook, both black, that we begin to realize that something fishy maybe going down.
Almost immediately, the film gives a taste of the tight rope walk Peele had to tread in order to create an effective horror experience while keeping the tone light and incredibly humorous. The cold open puts Andrew, a friend of a friend of Chris’s, in a suburban neighborhood at night, talking with his girlfriend on the phone, vocalizing how creeped out he is. The play on stereotypes is so apparent through the perspective of these characters that it's hard not to uncomfortably laugh as you then remember maybe doing the same. Even if you consider yourself a non-racist liberal, you still feel the awkward moments, like the weird emphasis on “black mold,” or “I would’ve voted for Obama a third time.” They also cross over the genre divide with comments about Chris’s genetic makeup being perfect for MMA and provoking a fight.
One of my worries was the use common horror tactics, namely the jump-scare: still silence brutally interrupted by an unexpected appearance and a sting from the score. These moments exist, and I really can’t help but roll my eyes at them, especially considering some of them weren't even startling. But this is only one side of the coin. Get Out takes its time planting sinister details, presenting innocuous actions that click the wrong way. When the mask falls, you can't help sinking in your seat, paralyzed. Its these moments where the Criterion interview makes sense. Peele talked about Rosemary’s Baby, mainly how he saw it young and has come to regard it as his favorite film. His mother, he tells us, used to go on about how the film perfectly portrayed pregnancy; having a feeling you just can’t shake, while everyone around you tells you everything is fine and blames your feeling on hormones. Get Out does the same. An early scene conditions you, showing the police are a little less than reasonable by asking for Chris’s license after an accident despite him being the passenger. Later on, the flash of police lights in the darkness evoke that same sinking feeling.
I’m so happy I was wrong about this film. Get Out is a ton of fun and shows that Peele can do more than smart comedy. I may have some issues, but if someone told me the cheap jump scares were there because the studio meddled with the script to appeal to that audience, I wouldn’t be surprised. Also, YouTuber YourMovieSucksDotOrg played with the idea that they were used ironically but poorly done, which I can also see and might agree with. Either way, see it. This is one of those types of horror films we need to see more of. Peele deserves the keys to the kingdom and free reign to do whatever he wants to do in the future.
- Alex B.
"Curtains" is where you can catch movie reviews by the Metal Lifestyle staff.