Opening scene: A young black man strolls through rich, white suburbia at night, looking down at his phone. The car approaching slows down, and the brake lights glow red. The man, Andrew King, played by Lakeith Stanfield (of FX’s Atlanta), mumbles to himself, “Keep going, just ignore it.” Instantly, this scenario triggers memories and news headlines of instances of police brutality and racial violence. Without spoiling too much of the shock aspect of the scene, let’s just say the movie plot of Get Out hits the ground running…
Get Out is director Jordan Peele’s debut film. Famous for his comedic sketches and his role on the hit comedy show Key & Peele, Peele recently made history after “earning more than $100 million at the box office, making Peele the first African-American writer-director to pass that threshold.” Within the last week, the film set another record as the highest-grossing original debut film in history after “surpassing the $200 million worldwide box office mark.” Peele has set a new precedent for African-American directors in Hollywood, claiming he will be the “‘first of many’ black writer-directors to reach the $100 million benchmark.” Typically, “horror films drop around 60% in sales after the second weekend, [but] Get Out dropped just 15%,” and for good reason, too.
After Ayinde Budd (‘18) told me, “It’s the movie of the year, no question,” my decision to go see Get Out had been made. Last Saturday I ventured out to Regal West Tower Cinemas 10 with Felipe Campos (‘17). Walking into the theater, I hoped the film would live up to the deified ratings and reviews that my friends and family had given it. As someone who has seen fewer than five horror films in my lifetime, I somehow forgot Get Out was categorized as a thriller/horror cross with a side of satirical comedy. The first few scenes were an unpleasant surprise, forcing me to accept that I would be frightened foremost and entertained second for the duration of the film.
The plot line of the movie follows an interracial couple, Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) and Rose Armitage (Allison Williams), on their visit to Rose’s remote family estate. Other characters I had seen in advertisements were purposefully brought into the action in an order that allowed each reveal to contribute to the unfolding plot. Opening the movie with the Andrew King scene provides a point of reference that the movie returns to later. Additionally, metaphors involving deer, hypnosis, and racial tensions recur throughout the film.
Peele does a solid job of fine-tuning almost unnoticeable minutiae in facial expressions and character interactions. Throughout the movie, there was an eerily realistic feeling to the plot that kept me uneasy. Even in exchanging pleasantries, the characters reveal their stories, emotions, and fears.
**SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS**
The major plot twist of the film is revealed just after the midway mark. The main character, Chris, connects the dots between missing person Andrew King, Mrs. Armitage’s neuroscience and hypnosis training, and the social awkwardness of the other black people living on or around the estate. The “liberal, elitist family” has been experimenting with brain transplants and hypnosis on the black men Rose has dated and the black employees of the Armitage estate. With the help of neurosurgeon Mr. Armitage, the family transplanted the brains of their elders into innocent black people.
Peele includes a great deal of social commentary in his debut film. He explores the irony behind privileged white liberals who feel enlightened because of their self-perceived “color-blindness,” which is merely a byproduct of their inability to fully empathize with those who experience the difficulties of being a minority in modern-day America. As a piece on interracial relationships, Budd says Get Out “touches on the gradual normalization of interracial couples, a drastic contrast from the ‘funny movie’ [he] expected.” Ayinde claims, “The movie was extremely original with creative twists that suggest a societal level of mental enslavement.”
All in all, Get Out was an incredible experience. Both Budd and I highly recommend you make an effort to catch it either in theaters or when it hits the stores or streaming services.
Watch the trailer here.