By Wesley James Young
A black man walks at night. The street lamps are bright and the grass is clean cut as he walks alone at night. A solitary figure whose urban cadence and quizzical pace separates him from “the burbs”. But he is wrapped in the bright and straight comfort such places afford. A point punctuated by the white Porsche that relieves him from that comfort of being alone at night. A song with the refrain “Run rabbit – run rabbit – Run! Run! Run!” serenades their meet cute. The black man knows what is coming as he turns to walk the other way. His instincts are confirmed as the scene becomes a lonely street at night.
And that, my dear readers, is the narrative strength of Jordan Peele’s Get Out. Each and every scene, up to a point I will describe later, is a study in pacing. Pacing is an often ignored art of giving a story time to breath. Each performance, each piece of scenery, each bar of the diaphanous score creates moments that last exactly long enough to coat the pallet and bring one to that place of ecstatic discomfort found in a good horror movie.
The obligatory summary is this: A Brooklyn photographer named Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) travels deep into the countryside with his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) to meet her parents. He asks “did you tell them I’m black?”. She responds by saying her parents are not racist and her father Dean (Bradley Whitford) would have voted for Obama for a third term—a phrase he repeats. The camera observes the meet and great from afar and pans out to reveal the black grounds keeper Walter (Marcus Hudson) looking onward ominously. A testament to the skill of the cinematographer for this movie, Toby Oliver. Her brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones) expresses hostile admiration for Chris’s physicality and genetic background that would make him a natural MMA fighter before attempting to put him in a headlock. Dean shows a picture of his father who lost to Jessie Owens in the preliminary tryouts for the 1936 Olympics and how he never got over it. The mother Missy (Catherine Keener) is discomforting in a way I sadly cannot recall on one viewing of a movie. The overall effect of this evening is Rose apologizing for her apparently racist parents and Chris simply saying I told you so.
The incidents only mount from there. Missy, who is a mental health professional, hypnotizes Chris. There is a summer party where old white people admire Chris as one would admire a race horse. The one guest who is black (LaKeith Stanfield) has peculiar mannerisms reminiscent of someone who studied human behavior out of a tourist guidebook. A trait shared by Walter and the black cook Georgina (Betty Gabriel). Yet a flash from a phone camera sends him into an enraged panic where he is screaming at Chris to “Get out!”. This episode is cured by Missy in the next scene. The last scene of the party, while Chris and Rose are having a tender moment where he expresses his desire to leave, is a party where the participants of the party use bingo cards to bid on Chris at an auction.
This brings us to the central plot of the movie which is a grand scheme by Rose’s family to kidnap black people and use their bodies to hold the brains of their rich and mostly white clientele—there was one Asian man at the party gathering. The procedure leaves the unfortunate victim a passenger in their own body as their new host uses their “superior genetic makeup” to continue in life. We come to find out that Walter is the grandfather and creator of this process who found a body equal to the long distance running skills he sought. Georgian is the grandmother, and Chris has been selected to play host to a blind art dealer who failed as a photographer. This is a plot that takes the concept of cultural appropriation to its most extreme and negative conclusion by having white people possess the bodies of black people. One could even feel free to take this one step further and consider it a commentary on slavery as well. But that is a longer essay for another time. Besides, if I do all the thinking for you, am I any better than the body snatching family of this movie?
Before I close, I will say this movie is not perfect in my view. The third act takes what I feel is a long digression into the attempts of Chris’s friend Rod (Lil Rel Howery) to figure out what happened to his friend and get the police involved. The results are comedic but almost feel like a separate movie. It is not broken by any stretch of the imagination but I did not think highly of the tonal shift. The behavior of Walter and Georgina seems more suggestive of being brainwashed than possession which almost makes me reject the grand reveal. There are a thousand and one other niggling points I could find on further viewing. But these do not diminish the movie in any way. Just because my dog occasionally piddles on the carpet and destroys the yard, does not mean I love him less.
With that, I will simply leave you with my recommendation to see this movie. Goodbye, dear readers, and happy viewing.
By Nicholas Nacario
This movie absolutely blew me away. It starts off with a bang then slowly unfolds into a movie of terror that made me jump out of my seat several times and also kept me locked in. Get Out is a horror story about a black man who is meeting his affluent white girlfriend’s parents for the first time. For most people, this wouldn’t seem like a big deal. But, anyone that has been in that position before knows that it is damn awkward and you’re bound to have some strange moments while you are around them. This could be anything from outright racism to the parents asking (sometimes even commenting) about your culture while having good intentions (which, to some, could also be seen as racist [I don’t speak Tagalog, wtf?]). This movie chose to utilize the latter route in such a way that can bluntly be described as fucking clever. The dialogue throughout the first act of this movie is surreal but entirely realistic. Many people have lived through these moments when meeting a large family for the first time. I appreciate that Jordan Peele has brought these types of situations to light and has added to the discussion on race that still needs to be made in America. I do not want to spoil too much about the movie’s deeper story but, it is more relevant today than when it was written while Obama was president.
The acting was phenomenal. Daniel Kaluuya’s stock will rise and he needs to be in more leading roles after this. He was perfect as Chris. Bradley Whitford was perfect as the dad that is trying to be a little too buddy-buddy and Catherine Keener was fucking TERRIFYING. Jesus Christ! I don’t think I can watch another movie with her in it for a long time. Ugh! Just thinking about the hypnosis scene creeps me the fuck out and gives me flashbacks to that really bad salvia trip back in 2009.
Four people almost steal the whole show from the leading roles, though. Marcus Henderson’s portrayal of the groundskeeper and Betty Gabriel’s portrayal of Georgina are absolutely tragic and terrifying. I have no idea how they were able to show off conflicting emotions (anger, fear, and happiness) but they pulled it off. Lakeith Stanfield’s brief appearance as Andrew was fantastic and it requires a lot of professionalism to maintain that role. I couldn’t do it. Ew. However, despite the fantastic acting by all mentioned so far, my favorite character of all was Rod. Rod was responsible for most of the comic relief for this movie and he was portrayed by stand-up comedian and actor, Lil Rel Howery. This looks to be his first major role in a movie, if that is the case, his debut has set a high bar. I hope he had a part in writing his own dialogue because it was fantastic. “I’m T.S.-muthafuckin-A. We handle shit.”
Get Out has set the bar high for Jordan Peele’s series of social demons movies that he has planned. I am definitely looking forward to the next one and will see it in theaters even if the price of a movie ticket keeps rising quicker than can really be justified.
Get Out! Now! Get out of your house or office and go see this movie!