Racism in modern America is distinct from the racism of previous eras. While overt discrimination remains common, there’s also an underlying prejudice with a downplayed impact, leading many to falsely believe racism is specific to a vocal minority. Jordan Peele’s "Get Out" uses the horror movie genre to explore that myth of post-racial America and frighten viewers in a distinct way.
"Get Out" is about a black man named Chris, played by Daniel Kaluuya, who goes on a trip with his white girlfriend Rose, played by Allison Williams, to meet her family. He fears their reaction upon learning his race, but when he finally meets her parents, they don’t freak out. Instead, they make awkward comments like her dad insisting he would’ve voted for Obama again if he could’ve. The other relatives are also friendly, but their remarks to Chris all play off racial stereotypes such as his presumed athleticism. As the microaggressions continue, a foreboding sense of tension builds, and Chris witnesses a series of increasingly strange occurrences that grow dire.
The deliberate pacing of the film is outstanding. The buildup is gradual but constantly engrossing. The way the conflicts escalate from uncomfortable to life-threatening feels natural and creates satisfying twists. Even once the film reaches its over-the-top supernatural moments, they’re effective because the setup is believable. Ultimately the scary moments are rooted in a rational fear of racism, which lets "Get Out" be immersive.
The film’s realism delves into nuances often glossed over in popular media. Chris’s dynamics with Rose capture the ubiquity of interracial relationships where one side never fully understands what the other goes through. Although Rose apologizes for her family’s insensitive comments, there are moments where she still thinks Chris is being unreasonable in his paranoia. Chris even second guesses whether he’s being too wary of well-meaning people.
Despite the significance of the film’s social commentary, Peele’s experience with comedy remains noticeable throughout the movie. "Get Out" reminds me of "Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy" stylistically in how it handles dark humor in the face of suspense with an ebb and flow that softens the impact of the serious moments. But in "Get Out," this method still effectively prevents the film from becoming a full-fledged comedy.
That’s important because this is still a horror movie. When Rose’s mother attempts to hypnotize Chris, the film captures the moment through distinctly nightmarish images. In the climax, the moments of sudden violence are intense and lead viewers to panic the same way any traditional horror villain’s actions would. While the integration of social commentary makes this film unconventional for the genre, racism is detestable enough to suit scary movies perfectly. In this regard, the film’s multifaceted nature gives it layers of depth. "Get Out" may be unabashedly political for a horror movie, but that’s what makes it so frightening.
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