A twenty-something-year-old black male Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) goes to meet his white girlfriend’s family for the first time in a secluded lake house. With Rose (Allison Williams) at his side, he does his best play a false persona, smiling through the consistent awkwardness of meeting her parents and the white extended family, not to forget to mention dealing with their polite racism. While living through the weekend, he has odd interactions with the few black people on site. Chris is forced to accommodate his girlfriend’s family and their whiteness, in a way that is both freaky yet routine in western society.
Jordan Peel’s psychological thriller is a compelling but stimulating critique on white power in The West. He isn’t discussing whether blacks are hypnotised by whites. What he’s doing is representing a form of white liberalism that portrays itself as empathetic to black people, an ideology that goes beyond White America. Yet, this ideology stops at white control. This isn’t about Neo-Nazis or closet Klan members who say “nigger.” Rather, he’s analysing those who think they’re not racist, a point pushed in lines like “has anyone here ever met a black person that didn’t work for them?”, aptly said by Chris (Kaluuya).
Since the dawn of time, the western world has been poaching bits of black culture. Nonetheless, oppressed people have always found a way to celebrate. They are the trendsetters. They always have been. Now in the 2017, you can see everybody wants to be like us, regardless if that is in the arts or even in sport. The world liked black culture, but they only wanted the good bits, including our physicality and musicality. In the first half of the 20th century, it was jazz and music of that ilk. In the 50s and 60s, it was ska which birthed the mod movement. Western society is a culture vulture, and there’s a potent scene earlier on where one character begins to feel Chris’ arms like he’s a some kind of slave at an auction ready to be sold. Coincidence? I think not.
The film is freaky and creepy. There’s no corny music, but Peel relies on the unknown to suck audiences in. Oh that looks odd, what’s happening here? The narrative is a slow burn but when the climax hits, it really hits. Things occur early on, which point to what this film is about. But it takes until the end of the film to put all things into its full perspective. I found it quite a revelation to be surprised by a Hollywood horror film. I know I can hardly believe it. After shows like Luke Cage and The Get Down, Get Out is welcome addition to the visual arts, a tome that discusses racial politics: this is something that touches more lives than just those in America.
Get Out achieves something that many horrors do not, it’s so simple, the characters aren’t dumbasses. They don’t make predictable decisions like numerous characters in countless horror movies before it. Things like that make me cringe. Whatever happened to old-fashioned logic? It has characters that behave realistically and I applaud Peel for that. Chris and Rose aren’t stupid, not one iota. Any sane person going into this scenario would become more unhinged as more oddities occurred and Peel deserves every bit of praise for writing a screenplay in which the characters act rationally.
I know it sounds simple but you’d be surprised at how many horror movies avoid this in favour of the bogstandard Hollywood soap opera-esque drama. Get Out does not replace the scares for gimmicky comedy. There’s a balance between frights and laughs but it joins everything together with a brutal social commentary and a piercingly unsettling tone. From the get-go, you care for Chris. He’s likeable from the start and you’re attached to his character. You don’t want anything to happen to him which ends with… well, I don’t think I’ll tell you that. Spoilers!
Damn Daniel! You can really act. Kaluuya gives a flabbergastingly brilliant performance as our protagonist. Rose (Williams), along with her freaky father (Bradley Whitford), psychotic mother (Catherine Keener) and violent brother (Caleb Landry Jones) give ace performances too. I know it’s only March but I fear this will be one of the best films of the year and certainly one that I’ll rewatch time and time again in the years to come. But then again, I left the cinema feeling like…