When I first saw the trailer for “Get Out,” the thriller written and directed by comedian Jordan Peele, I knew I would never willingly see the film.
The trailer was all kinds of messed up, both in situational and horror elements. It completely creeped me out, and I knew there was zero chance that I would ever go see the movie.
Tuesday night, I saw “Get Out,” and no, I didn’t have to be dragged into the theater kicking and screaming. Sadly, my options were just that limited.
“Get Out” tells the story of a black man, Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), who goes home with his white girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), in order to meet her family. Meeting your significant other’s parents is terrifying enough, but the unknowns that come with an interracial relationship make it even more stressful. Rose assures him that her family isn’t racist, and the two go on their merry way.
Of course, things seem off right from the beginning, and Chris is uncomfortable from the get-go. Rose’s parents, Dean and Missy Armitage (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener), just try too hard. You know how older folks will try to use modern slang and talk about mutual interests with those younger than them, but they just end up more awkward than cool? Meet Rose’s parents.
Things get even more interesting when Chris realizes the Armitages employ black servants, and aside from one older white lady’s boytoy, those are the only black folks to be found in the area. Oh, and Missy is a hypnotist who doesn’t understand boundaries, so that makes things even weirder.
I can’t go into too many details without completely spoiling the story, but let me go ahead and say that these aren’t even the weirdest moments of the film.
It’s kind of hard to classify “Get Out.” There’s definitely some horror-like aspects to it, but it’s not the insane scream-a-thon I was expecting to have. There are a couple of jump scares, but overall, the film just has a running track of uncomfortable moments. Whether it’s the interactions between Chris and the various white people around him, or just the moments that feel slightly off like the unnatural smiles and behaviors of the three, count them, three, black people he meets in this town, the film leaves the viewer feeling feeling almost intolerably anxious throughout.
There’s also some humor throughout, which is a given considering Peele is half of the comedic duo Key and Peele, which also features Keegan-Michael Key. The laughs come courtesy of LilRel Howery, who plays Chris’ best friend, Rod. He’s a TSA agent who offers up periodic dirty jokes but also recognizes something’s amiss with Chris’ situation.
But, beyond just thrills, chills and laughs, “Get Out” offers an important lesson in microaggression. Rose is adamant that her family isn’t racist, and they’ll love him. She even tells him her dad would have voted for Obama a third time, if he could. Her dad reaffirms the notion. But, just in saying that, Rose and her father are displaying a casual, subtle form of racism. They’re trying to show they can connect to Chris by pointing out a fondness of another black man.
When Chris meets some of Dean and Missy’s friends, the comments keep coming. One says he’s a fan of Tiger Woods. With each new person he meets, the color of his skin is the main topic of discussion.
While “Get Out” bombards you with these moments to raise the level of tension and let you know that this situation is messed up, Peele is also introducing audiences to something that happens every day but sometimes goes unnoticed. And it’s not just with race. It can deal with homosexuality or gender. Upon meeting a gay person, you might comment that you’re an advocate for equal rights or that your uncle is gay. Ya know, to show you’re cool with same-sex relationships. Microaggressions are small-scale moments of bigotry that seem harmless but can be rather damning to the person on the receiving end. By pointing out skin color, sex and more, you’re actually showing that you notice a difference.
These moments keep happening in “Get Out,” and each time we watch Chris try to shake it off, but as he grows uncomfortable, so do we.
Many writers try to get a social point across under the guise of entertainment. Often, it slaps you in the face or is so subtle that it’s missed entirely. The choices Peele makes in his story, while they seem a bit much at times, serve as the perfect catalyst to give audiences a slice of reality while at the same time keeping them on the edge of their seats. It’s a really smart movie, and it works well.
Bottom line: Peele’s directorial debut is a promise of good things to come. It’s a film that’s both damning and entertaining, a perfect combo for 2017.