By using racism as a major theme for this film, Get Out immediately sets it apart from similar horror/thrillers. It isn’t a straight horror film, though it certainly creates an atmosphere thicker than tar, and some spine-chilling moments reminiscent of The Shining. It definitely has some other moments that throwback to horror films of the 80’s, but is very much based in modern society; racism can be an extremely scary experience, it has been slowly building for the last few years, and this film uses that notion to its full advantage.
If the image above doesn’t grab you, I implore you to seek medical attention immediately. Now.
The tone of the film is immediately announced, as the film starts with crickets chirping and we begin to hear a conversation off screen. Soon a black man appears in the frame and is walking through a predominantly white neighbourhood, engaged in a humorous conversation about street names and how lost he is. Soon after he hangs up the phone he is abducted.
What follows is an extremely well written main theme, using elements of African music to create a black experience, to paraphrase Jordan Peele. More on that later.
After this strong opening, we meet Chris (an incredible Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend Allison (again, a great showing by Allison Williams). In fact, every actor involved in this film deliver near-flawless performances.
Chris is understandably nervous that Allison wants him to meet her family, as they don’t know that he is black, and Chris understandably thinks that it is probably a good detail for them to know before he meets them. She reassures him that her parents are harmless, but his friend Rodney can already sense the weirdness. And weird is a wild understatement when thinking about the plot of this film, and how this visit gradually unfolds.
When I next google the phrase ‘mind-f-ck movies’, this one sure as hell better be on the list. And do yourself a favour, don’t watch any trailers and go in blind.
Their visit begins normal enough, with her Dad being a typical dorky Dad, insistent on giving Chris a tour of the large property. But things are already getting strange – every servant to this family is black, and not only that, they don’t seem to possess any sort of personality, or humanity. Further still is her father’s comment early on how ‘private’ their large back-yard is, not to mention his outburst when the couple first arrive and tell the parents that they hit a deer during the drive.
Suddenly the father is filled with hatred towards deer, one of many subtle hints to differing racist attitudes.”You did the world a favour,” he remarks.
Chris seems shake this weirdness off as white people acting like white people while around a black person, and there is some great humour surrounding this stereotypical behaviour, and this humour further separates it from other movies of this nature. It isn’t a horror-comedy in the vein of Dead Snow or What We Do In The Shadows, rather the funniness lies in the increasingly uncomfortable situation Chris finds himself in, and the contrast between this and the over-the-top but understandable and hilarious reactions from his buddy Rodney when Chris calls and tells him what is happening.
Rodney is thinking what we all are: Get the f-ck Out!! LilRel Howery as Rodney provides great comic relief, and despite limited screen time, he is a very memorable character; quite the feat when the entire film is filled with a buffet of Very Strange People. There isn’t any normalcy to be found here.
There is also another layer of humour, nothing that will make you laugh out loud but it will put a smile on your face. The sheer weirdness and creepiness of the entire situation, especially how the black servants act around, and especially how they talk to Chris, is both at the same time hilarious and spine-tingly creepy. It is the black people at the place who are acting the most insane towards Chris, adding more confusion to his situation.
A mention must go to the subtle cinematography of Aussie Toby Oliver, heightening the sense of tight spaces such as hallways, while making the most of the more visually compelling scenes, especially close-ups involving the black servants. However, Michael Abels’ soundtrack stands out as one of the best modern scores I have ever heard. Not only are a few pop songs used in complete juxtaposition to the insanity that is occurring on screen, the score is another element of the film that will creep inside your brain. Did you like the soundtracks to The Witch or Under The Skin? Arrival? Then this is one that you simply must listen to.
Fun fact: The main title theme is in Swahili. The title of the track is “Sikiliza Kwa Wahenga,” a phrase that translates to “listen to (your) ancestors”, while the song’s lyrics loosely mean “something bad is coming. Run.”
Yet another sense of horror to this very layered film that sends chills down my spine just writing about it.
To state the obvious, the sheer insanity of the situation heightens, but is done so with an almost perfect pace, revealing key plot points not too soon or too late. The entire last act is lean-forward-in-your-chair tense, and is executed with extreme finesse. It is unfortunate then that despite this excellent execution, the very final scenes are rather predictable, but still pack a hard gut-punch that is not easy to forget. The final reveal before said final scenes is also something that you won’t shake soon.
A movie timed perfectly given the racial climate that has been enveloping most of the world, Europe especially and alarmingly over the last few years, Get Out capitalises on the horror of racism, succeeding in holding a mirror to the world, and surely must make a racist person think twice about why they believe what they believe. This is obviously a personal movie for Jordan Peele, and it certainly feels that way as he effortlessly combines satire on race with an extremely atmospheric, tense experience that is relentless in its horrific, plain f-cked up attack on your mind. There are images that you will not quickly shake, and many, many moments that you will see when you close your eyes at night.
Happy nightmares! My first full sixer for the year.
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