Breonna Taylor’s murderers still haven’t been brought to justice; only one’s been fired, rather than being arrested, charged and imprisoned. And to top that off, there are still loads of unsolved cases of police brutality against people of colour. At the very least for Taylor’s case, we are not willing to quiet down and the names and faces of each officer are well-known in the public’s eye and they’ll have that burden on themselves forever. So as we keep the discussion alive, today I wanted to discuss one of the most uncomfortably eye-opening movies I’ve ever witnessed.
Rose Armitage’s parents live in a giant beige house with an even bigger backyard. They also live around a forest free for hiking, and have a maid and yard worker, both of whom are black. White privilege commentary, anyone? Well, it definitely is effective commentary. These things are just the tip for Chris (Daniel Kaluuya in a breakout role) as he goes on a meet-my-white-girlfriend’s-parents trip, with his girl Rose (Allison Williams) who is sweet, protective and maybe a bit pushy. Things are somewhat fine meeting parents Dean and Missy (Bradley Whitford & Catherine Keener) and Rose’s hipster brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones) but the family seems to be insisting to Chris they don’t mind him being black but pointing it out so strangely and persistently, that, yeah, they see him as stand-out different. Chris expected this but as the trip gets more and more abnormally loony, the abnormalities are slowly revealing a secret that will doom Chris if he doesn’t keep on his feet.
As of writing this review, I slightly feel I’m treading on absolutely zero new ground. Get Out is now an iconic movie and I admit that loads of other movie critics have given similar commentary as me. I even reviewed this movie on my old site when it first arrived. But three years later, I have other stuff to add.
This movie was released really shortly after Donald Trump was sworn in as commander-in-chief. I’d already been paying attention to his campaign. It’s hard to look away from grotesque occurrences. I didn’t watch the trailers but I knew it was about a white young lady introducing her black boyfriend to her family and something going wrong. I just didn’t know what kind of wrong. What I was mostly looking forward to was seeing an interracial couple loving each other, beating odds. I was naive. But I really love books with interracial love and a family mine is close to is that same way, and I got what I wanted, sort of, and more. Much, much more.
In my original review, I talked about how I grew up not understanding racism. There was a young man named Issa from East Africa who worked at our public school as a helper when I was in 4th and 5th grade. Everyone loved him and found him so cool, including me. We all played sports with him, talked with him, said hello with bright smiles in and out of school. But post-watching this movie, I couldn’t help but wonder if Issa really felt completely comfortable. The innocence of us children helps tip the idea that he was but I guess I just don’t know for sure. I also realized, by the time I was a sophomore in high school, just how out of tune my environment was with the rest of the world on these issues.
In Chris’ case, as the big protagonist, we see all these pretentious, well-dressed Caucasians, being polite but making assumptions and staring at him in disconcerting curiosity, maybe even a hint of hidden ferocity, but we can’t figure out what the exact situation is. This movie opened up the question in my head that persists all the time: When you have a friend who’s a different race, when is it proper to acknowledge it and when is it proper to just talk to him or her like a friend of your same race like the difference doesn’t matter? Should it not matter, or is attempting to make it not matter disregarding important history? You don’t want to follow the route of radical right-wingers but you also really don’t want to follow the route of the Armitage family.
This isn’t just a world-criticism feature either. It’s also in the horror genre, and when it comes to those movies, creepy crawlies, darkness, bats and zombies can be chilling, but what really makes a horror movie effective is when you also touch on other fears some people may more often find themselves in, like being trapped in a very narrow space, or telling the truth and not being believed or being hurt as a result, or ending up locked up for a crime you didn’t commit. In Get Out’s case, there’s not just a disconcerting setting, some good and not over-the-top jump scares, and a climax that had me on the edge of my seat due to the real possibility of Chris not making it out alive or even worse, ending up trapped for possible eternity in a pitch-dark void. But it’s also scary in the fact that in a bigoted world, people of colour, especially when they live in mainly-white neighbourhoods, may be chosen by those people as a target for harassment for doing nothing wrong, and within any of them may be a racist demon wanting you to be made an example of, and too much of the world is set up to be tolerated that way.
When the tipping point in this film arrives and the awkwardness is done and Chris is all alone when he thought he could count on the one person who stood up for him before, he feels helpless, and we do too. And when he’s able to escape from his hold in a strategy so simple it was brilliant, we have hope again, leading to a beautifully straightforward and frightening ending brawl where we half expect an ending where Chris makes one wrong and painfully bad turn that turns out to be fatal. There are bad turns he makes, though not fatal, and we expect the next one will be the deadly turning point. I cared about Chris’ outcome in the film tremendously, and that’s the catch for any suspense film.
Some of the jokes feel unnecessary and some of the racial slurs a little overly plastered, but when you take one desire and make a movie around it whilst trying to make it eye-opening and exciting, and even heartbreaking, sometimes you get a movie worthy of the attention of the universe. Jordan Peele got the job done.
If you like this, I’d try: Fruitvale Station, Queen & Slim, Black Panther, The Hate U Give, and I’d check out this article about interracial couples who saw the film together.