Get out: How to screw with a genre

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!

Personally, I’m not a very big fan of movies with social agendas. To be fair, some are more heavy-handed while others are subtle, and I have made some twisted comments that I regret like “I think the Brad Pitt-Michael Fassbender conversation was the best part of ’12 Years a Slave’. Now here’s why Get Out completely destroyed that part of me.

In a nutshell, Get Out is VERY CLEVER. It is somehow very in-your-face about the subject matter but with a sort of respect for the audience; Reminiscent of the cheeky attitude from The Big Short, but minus the 4th wall stuff. The movie gives a more earnest context to the kind of  thing you might see on a Youtube rant. In the first stages of the movie, comments like “I’d vote for Obama a third time” are repeated with a deceptive sincerity that makes you clack your tongue. Now I gave this is a thumbs up as something that could use the big screen presence, but that’s when things got turned up to 11.

“My friend’s girlfriend is African-American” soon changes to “Black is in fashion” and before you know it: hypnosis. Jordan Peele has taken what I expected to be a dive into the African American experience and turned it into a bizarre and outrageous nightmare. I felt like I was in a roller coaster that reached the top of the curve and suddenly started speeding backwards. Somehow, Daniel Kaluuya’s experience as an African American man with a caucasian girlfriend, which should be alien to an Indian graduate student, becomes incredibly empathetic. The oddly unsettling feeling of seeing Afrocan Americans on the estate behaving…well, the way they were behaving…is something that’s making you strangely uncomfortable.

And here’s the chewy center: That’s what the movie is supposed to do! This is, by most measures and opinions, a horror movie; satirical horror, but horror all the same! And it creeps you out! I imagine it would creep out the whitest person in the audience! Hell, I can take Jigsaw on a TV screen or Regan MacNeil spider-walking down the stairs, but why was an overtly friendly groundskeeper giving me the heebie-jeebies? This is where the juice of the social commentary is, but that’s not my jurisdiction, so we’ll stick to the experience.

That’s not the only way this movie subverts the horror genre. Jordan Peele has taken the screams in the heads of a typical horror audience and splashed it all over the screen, particularly in the form of trusty sidekick and TSA badass: Rod Williams. And it’s more than just him saying stuff like “I told you not to go into that house!”. It’s how the two characters are very aware of the social makeup in this movie but you want to side with one of them. The pacifist in me is completely on Daniel’s side. Let’s be realistic, Even a glimpse at the poster would tell you this guy is in trouble the minute he sets foot in that estate, but I couldn’t help but think:

“You’re overthinking things!”

“But they’re so friendly!”

“But Allison Williams is so pretty!”

Enter Rod Williams, the man who says things others won’t say out loud. His phone calls offer a much needed respite, screaming our thoughts at the ever-tolerant Daniel Kaluuya. This leads us to the Pièce De Résistance, the scene where the police car pulls up to Chris and Rose on the street. In one magical moment, every single person in the audience, regardless of race, ethnicity, whatever,  without a shadow of doubt, just went “Oh shit he’s screwed”. And out comes, the man himself, Rod EFFING Williams. The collective sigh in the theater could have turned a windmill. My rollercoaster suddenly jerked sideways and flew off the track, landing safely in a meadow somewhere.

In one magical twist, Jordan Peele pulled off the most socially relevant troll of the 21st century. Okay, so maybe some of you saw it coming. Kudos to you! But for the rest of us, we walked out of that theater slightly different than how we were walking in. And that is something I did not expect a dark comedy/horror/satire flick to pull off. I am so happy for Get Out’s recognition at the oscars; not for social commentary or sending out an important and relevant message; but simply for being a very clever movie. Jordan Peele sat in on a class that was deconstructing this movie and casually tossed aside theories, an attitude that I hope more movies can assume these days.

I’m going to refrain from giving ratings to movies henceforth because I change my mind once every 10 minutes. These posts are very impulsive and mostly always highly positive and appreciative, and I’ll probably keep it that way, at least until something truly awful comes my way. Thanks for reading!

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