The most frightening things in the world often hit closest to home. Horror thriller “Get Out” recognizes this by tackling racism at a time where it’s at the forefront of our minds.
Chris is a young photographer enjoying relative success both professionally and romantically. His girlfriend, Rose, invites him to meet her family after five months of dating. Chris is apprehensive, as he is black and Rose is white.
Such a distinction in our culture doesn’t sound like an issue, as Rose assures him, but Chris understands that America holds a structural racism. Experience has shown him that society thinks the color of his skin truly is a big deal.
It’s not often that a horror movie tries to make such a big political statement. Recent events like the shooting of Michael Brown, Black Lives Matter, and the appointment of a president whose political ideas are opposite that of the previous POTUS have made this film’s message more relevant than ever.
Writer/Director Jordan Peele, of “Key and Peele” fame, manages to take much of the biting wit that made his Comedy Central show so popular and turn it into a careful examination of the genre.
Tension is the heart of a good scare, and Peele has a knack for creating several unique and uncomfortable situations for Chris.
On the way to the parents’ house, the couple hits a deer with their car and call the police for help. The officer tells them to call animal control next time, and asks for Rose’s license, then Chris’s, even though he wasn’t driving.
Chris is prepared to submit, but Rose doesn’t stand for that and argues the point. The officer receives a call on his radio asking if he’s alright and you see a glimmer of indecision in his eyes.
Peele lets you release that breath you’ve been holding as the officer dismisses the call and tells the couple to go on their way.
The tension only increases from there, but it wouldn’t be Peele without comic relief, emphasis on “relief.” Chris’s wisecracking best friend Rod serves as the audience’s voice, and a voice of reason in his own outlandish way every time he checks in on Chris via phone.
Often the comedy is less overt and more satirical. For example, Peele picks on the white liberals who believe they’re above racism because they voted for Obama, like Rose’s father.
As the film’s plot evolved it felt as if it were crossing that line into goofy B-movie territory, forcing the audience to suspend their disbelief to follow along. In a film that wanted to say something about reality, this wasn’t always conducive to the message.
This film must be commended for how confidently it tackles its central themes. Peele manages to turn racial tensions into effective tension on the screen in a way that leaves the audience with a clear understanding of what the film wanted to say, while being a great film in its own right. 7/10