Follow the spoiler warnings and you can read this review without getting the film spoiled.
What is it about?
The film is written and directed by Jordan Peele, who is definitely on a prolonged high-point in his career since the last few years. His last few films have gotten numerous accolades and love from critics. Get Out was the beginning of his critical fame.
I have attended parties where I was the only non-white attendee. Many of my readers must have similar experiences, where they are in a party in which they don’t fit and visibly stand out. This film is exactly about that awkward feeling. A similarly horrifying feeling is meeting one’s partner’s family. This film plays with these awkward emotions that we try to turn a blind eye to and adds a lot of drama in those moments.
The film is also very much about race relations in the United States. The genius of the screenplay is in taking those quiet uncomfortable yet small incidents of racial tensions and widening it with fantasy. The film explores the schisms of the American society and makes them truly larger than life.
The plot is about Chris (played by Daniel Kaluuya) who is black and has a white girlfriend Rose (who is played by Allison Williams). The entire premise is that Chris has to meet Rose’s family. That is basically all that I can tell you without giving spoilers.
The film received the 2017 Academy Award for Best Screenplay. Daniel Kaluuya received an Academy nomination for his fantastic portrayal of a terrified black boyfriend.
Comparisons and analysis
I have seen a quite a few films about race. American History X, is one interesting film. Django Unchained is a weird homage/satire to the Blaxploitation genre of films and talks about slavery. The film 12 years a slave is a heart-touching film about slavery.
My favorite on-screen depiction of racial tensions is The People v. O. J. Simpson, which is one ten-episode season of the show American Crime Story. It goes into great details of the O. J. Simpson trial and everything about this story has to do with racial tensions in America.
Another great film about race is BlacKkKlansman. It is about a black police officer who investigates members of the Ku Klux Klan by joining their ranks. Jordan Peele was one of the producers of this Spike Lee film. Spike Lee has made a lot of films about race, including Malcom X and Da 5 Bloods, but unfortunately I have not seen these films yet.
Us is a 2019 film by Peele that is very similar to Get out in many ways. I’ll totally recommend it to fans of this film.
Eyes Wide Shut gets mentioned in Get Out. This is a very cool film by the cinema genius Stanley Kubrick and has themes similar to this film but nothing about race. I’ll recommend that too. But Get Out minus the themes about race is actually a very generic film. There are lots of films you can find with equal levels of spookiness. There’s even a genre named after this. I won’t name this genre, nor films similar in this aspect because that might spoil the suspense.
That one scene
WARNING: Spoilers ahead!
I wanted to write this blog post mostly because of that one terrifying scene that made me ponder a lot. I am not the only one who was intrigued by it. Here’s an article in Los Angeles Times in which Jordan Peele himself was asked about this scene and he explains what goes on there.
In this scene Rose is just casually drinking some milk and eating some crackers while looking at pictures of handsome black males, possibly to find her next target on her computer. Her background wall is adorned with pictures of black people she has duped, as trophies. What also struck me as strange was that she used Bing on an Internet Explorer to search images, maybe because she never bothered to change the default browser. This scene really scared me somehow, despite nothing scary happening at all there.
To me, Rose here is just calmly accepting her privilege and entitlement, unconcerned with what her own family is doing. The impact created by this scene is from the familiarity of what Rose is doing. Unconcerned by the havoc going outside in the world, entitled people in the world party and relax in leisure. That includes me, when I calmly write film reviews in the middle of a pandemic. I am Rose and the director Jordan Peele is making me really afraid of myself and that is the real horror of this scene!
Peele is a master in this sense. I observed that unlike the conventions of mainstream horror films like It, Peele never indulges in jump scares. His style of horror is much more complex and deeper. The suspense is not in what will happen in the next two seconds on the screen, but over how disturbing the situation is and how suspenseful the story is. This scene is a beautiful testimony to his style.
End of spoilers
The film is very fresh and very different. Watching this might make you a Jordan Peele fan like me. Do watch it!