If you have not seen Get Out twice already, get out to your nearest AMC or independent movie theater as soon as humanly possible. Don’t worry, though: this message has been crafted to be spoiler-free.
Get Out takes the all-too-typical jump thriller genre to a new level by mixing in a component of cultural critique—combining psychological horror, humor and unflinching wit, creating some darkly pertinent social satire.
After less than a month in theaters, Jordan Peele’s Get Out has crossed the $100 million box office mark and has scored the rare, nearly perfect 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
But this is certainly not a box-topper you want to wait for until Netflix or DVD snags with greedy hands. Wake up and get woke with your local movie theatre audience. That communal experience is of upmost importance to director and writer Jordan Peele.
“I always want to entertain more than anything else. So I hope that they go to the theatre and its a loud experience, they laugh, they’re titillated… After that, I hope they have a discussion about race or horror films that they haven’t had before,” says Peele in an interview with IMDb.
Peele’s story is of wider scope than even Chris Washington’s (David Kaluuya) wide-eyed hypnotic glare can imply. Get Out is most pertinent to our work as Juilliard artists because of the pressing politics at play.
Peele brilliantly manages to challenge not only conventional genre barriers but also racial role barriers. In typical Hollywood-bound horror films, black actors are all too often marginalized into supporting characters. “As the last couple of years unfolded and the country got woke to a certain extent, the movie became less about identifying the fact that racism exists and much more about giving us a hero,” Peele insists in an interview with Washington Post.
David Kaluuya’s Chris Washington (I would say along with Moonlight’s characters Little/Chiron/Black, actors Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes, respectively) IS that outstanding hero-protagonist. Chris Washington solves situations as they arise left and right with bravery and quick-thinking strategy. Most importantly—unlike conventional horror film victims—Chris does not allow his fears to overwhelm him. He fights proud and he fights loud.
Chris has taught me why I must vocalize my curiosity and concerns as opposed to settling in silence. If I do not begin to raise challenging questions, of myself and of others in this world, I may become the first to be eaten by the evil monster inhabiting some less successful horror thriller out there somewhere.
Peele is another model for posing those brave questions. He casts doubt on the well-worn narrative that racism can only exist in the red South by intentionally setting the chilling story on blue ground, which itself bears another well-worn narrative, one of complacent liberalism.
“It was really important for me to not have the villains in this film reflect the typical red state type who is usually categorized as being racist. It felt like that was too easy. I wanted this film to explore the false sense of security one can have with the, sort of, New York liberal type,” Peele told the Washington Post.
Chris travels to rural upstate New York to meet his girlfriend Rose Armitage’s (Allison Williams) family. Rose soothes Chris’s initial anxiety, “Do they know I’m black?” with a light hearted “My dad would have voted for Obama a third time if he could have… The love is so real.”
The overarching paranoia behind his question soon morphs into something more than mere fear. We journey alongside Chris as he delves into the radical unease at the Armitage’s and attempts to demystify its puzzling inhabitants: a supposedly liberal, open-minded family, including Rose’s neurosurgeon father, Dean Armitage (played by Juilliard alum Bradley Whitford of Group 14), her cool and collected tea-drinking hypnotherapist mother Missy (Catherine Keener) and her unpredictably rambunctious brother (Caleb Landry Jones). Chris immediately notices something a little off with the black people he encounters in and around the Armitage home, particularly the groundsmen Walter (Marcus Henderson) and maid Georgina (Betty Gabriel, a recent Juilliard alum from Group 43) who both seem strangely unaware of and even at ease with the palpable racial tension. Chris makes one shocking discovery after another, and his initial wary interaction with the family must grow into a heroic confrontation. (There’s the most vague synopsis manageable without spoiling it.)
Get Out is a must-see. It masterfully explores racial paranoia in a thrilling, chilling, stomach-churning journey spanning only 103 minutes. See it, talk about it, then let’s all of us GET OUT, get woke, and create some similar politically pertinent art like Peele!