Get Out

A combination of horror, comedy, and social commentary

Get Out came out more than a month ago, but it’s worth talking about. While it is rated R for violence, bloody images, and language, it tackles an important issue in a creative, disturbing way.

The film’s plot draws on other horror films, such as The Stepford Wives and Rosemary’s Baby, as a conspiracy is gradually revealed. It also employs humor in many places.

The film is by first-time director Jordan Peele, who also wrote and produced it. Made for only $4.5 million, it’s already grossed more than $154 million worldwide.

Peele uses some typical tropes of the horror genre but subverts them to create a story that comments on white supremacy and the devaluation of black life.

The film opens with a black man walking through a suburban neighborhood late at night. He’s abducted and stuffed into the trunk of a car. Already we’re alerted to ominous action ahead. Then we move into the main story, in which Chris, a black photographer, and Rose, his white girlfriend, travel to visit her parents for the first time.

At the family estate, Chris meets Rose’s parents, who greet him warmly and express their liberal values. Her father tells Chris he would have voted for Obama for a third term if it were possible. The family has two black servants—a maid and a gardener—who act strangely. We’re alerted something is wrong, but we’re not sure what.

Later, Rose’s mother, a psychologist, hypnotizes Chris, ostensibly to help him quit smoking. The next day, Chris talks with Rod, his best friend, and describes what he has witnessed at the estate. Rod tells him to get out.

The film’s plot draws on other horror films, such as The Stepford Wives and Rosemary’s Baby, as a conspiracy is gradually revealed. It also employs humor in many places.

Peele also makes good use of recurring images, such as a deer, and even though we know something sinister is happening, the climax still surprises us.

What makes this more than just another horror film is how it relates to our current reality. While Obama was president, many talked about a “post-racial” America. Slavery was a thing of the past, and now that we had an African American president, we could move on to other issues.

In an op-ed piece in the New York Times, Brent Staples writes that the film “argues that present-day race relations are heavily determined by the myths that were created to justify enslavement—particularly the notion that black people were never fully human.”

Staples calls this a counternarrative to that of post-racialism and notes other recent examples, including two award-winning novels from last year, The Sellout by Paul Beatty and The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.

In Get Out, Peele wants to debunk this myth of a post-racial America. While showing a modern-day slave auction may seem outlandish, it brings to light the harsh reality of how African American lives are devalued in this country.

As a result, we who are white leave the theater not only stunned by the story itself but also confronted with a reality that is equally horrible, yet one to which we are often blind.

Rated R for violence, bloody images, and language.


All reviews express the opinions of the reviewer, not necessarily the views of Third Way.


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