Released: February 2017
Written & Directed by Jordan Peele
Reviewed by: Melissa Herrera
**WARNING: MANY SPOILERS PLUS MISSY'S UNRELENTING RELATING TO DISCRIMINATORY SPEECH AND PROFILING. THIS MOVIE USES IT SO IT'S RELEVANT. IF YOU ARE OFFENDED WHEN PEOPLE SAY "WHITE" THEN YOU CAN STOP READING NOW.**
The last real movie review I wrote was for Interstellar, back in 2014. It may have been more commentary, which might happen to this review as well. Fair warning. I've watched hundreds of movies since then and nothing has stirred me quite as much. Space, and the thought of time traveling through it, moves me.
Horror movies stroke my inner demons as well, the intimate bond of the movie-goer and a mounting terror you can't put your finger on. If done right, it drips gathering dread through your body until you're squirming in those newly-installed luxury loungers.
I can't say that I paid much attention to the previews for Get Out, or that it was made by Jordan Peele, of Key & Peele fame. They never fail to make me laugh, so why would I begin to believe that one half of them could terrify me? I should always know to check myself and my assumptions.
I want to give my true thoughts and not let anyone else's take on the movie affect what I took away from it. I haven't read anyone's review since I saw it. Let's unpack the movie:
There is a brief beginning that will come into play later in the movie. But we begin with an interracial couple, a black man and a white woman, Chris and Rose. Nothing to see here as he packs his suitcase and readies to go with her to meet her parents. She is typically white, reassuring him that her folks are "woke" and will not be upset at all that he is black. He isn't that reassured, and I recognize the blind tone in her voice that says "all will be okay" and the unsure look in his eye as he doubts her. I have used that tone.
There is a funny friend for comic relief (who is a very good friend and semi-hero in the end), a dog, and a car trip that is interrupted with a deer running across the road, and the car hitting it. It's designed to unsettle you, and when he goes into the woods to see if it's still alive, you really want to scream at him not to. Nothing good happens from following semi-dead animals into the woods.
They call the police *FOR HITTING A DEER* and profiling takes place, which may shock many of you, but not me. It's that every day preparation of always knowing where documents are, and the "let's get this over with" on his end. It's a conditioning of circumstances that happen regularly.
They finally arrive, meet the parents, and all seems to be well as they are overly cool about him and their daughter dating him. Let's be honest, we are all squirmy about who our kids date until we get to know them. The parents, and especially the brother who shows up, are to me an acknowledgment of the bougie rich enclaves that dot our landscape. They are sweatered up and layered with cotton fabrics that flow and fall just right, begging us to like them even though we know they could dine out and pay for a dinner that is a mortgage payment to us. There is nothing wrong with being rich. Dinner is weird with strange testosterone challenges from the brother. The brother is a bit off, and written as such.
We see the black woman who is their live-in housekeeper, as well as their black groundskeeper. Both are eerie and off kilter, and the dad apologizes for the appearance of having "only black help." It's with them that we see the movie begin to take shape. Their eyes seem vacuous and he cannot place what seems wrong with them.
Chris struggles with smoking, and he's trying to quit. In the middle of the night he slips outside to have a cigarette, but is interrupted and disturbed by two run-ins with the groundskeeper and housekeeper. When he heads inside the mom is still awake, and she invites him to sit with her and let her help him with his smoking habit. She is a psychiatrist/psychotherapist (?), and she claims she has created a technique to help people quit smoking, a sort of hypnosis, and he resists until suddenly it is too late - she has already done what she set out to do.
There's tea cups and spoons, and then we're suddenly in the sunken place and my entire head explodes.
I will not give this part away because fear shot right through me during this scene. It was unnerving, unsettling, and the set up for the entire rest of the story.
There is an annual party, one the parents hold yearly with their very upper crust set of friends, that begins the next day and the couple have no way out of attending it. I'll go through this quickly. The friends are overly nice to Chris, touching his arms, examining his features - enough to make me squirmy. I thought I knew what was going to happen at this point, but I was wrong.
So many racial innuendos I shudder. It's intentional. Yet I have found that we're much more comfortable laughing at racist gags than we are at seeing reality, albeit slightly exaggerated, play out on screen. It's a moment to reflect, if you're white.
Chris meets another black man at the party, there with a much older lady. We know him from the movie's opening, and as he begins to speak in a years-past sort of vernacular, I still think I know where it's going and I'm still wrong. Chris becomes uncomfortable with the tone and people of the party, and Rose and him take a walk.
What happens when they're gone is nothing but bone-chilling. I won't reveal it, but suffice to say no one utters a word as it's happening which makes it more scary. White people doing white people things that they've done throughout history, just thinking they can.
I don't really write this openly about racial discrimination, but this movie is built around it, so I press on.
We start building to a climax here as the party winds down. There have been incidents with phones, the housekeeper, and Chris' innate sense of impending doom that he should have listened to long before it gets to this point. It becomes urgent and he tells Rose they need to leave. I want to believe that this normal-looking white girl will be with him until the end. I hang onto that until the last possible second. I had hope for you, girl. You did me dirty.
When all is lost and Chris realizes he is all alone in a trap he hasn't yet figured out, all hell breaks loose. He's knocked out by tea cups and punching and wakes up in the basement.
This is when we descend into what I can only describe as a 1970's satanic cult movie. I realize this thread has been there all along, not the satanic part, but the "retro" part. I don't want to give away what transpires in the basement, but hypnosis, subliminal messages, secret operating rooms, and the outrageous thought that someone can do whatever they want with someone else's body is played out.
I'm rooting for Chris, just like I always rooted for the Native Americans when I read a story set out west. I say out west a bit lightly, because if we critically think more about it, the Native Americans have been erased from East Coast mentality. They persisted longer out west, and that's where we think of them being. They're taken advantage of, simultaneously, for what is perceived to be a lesser humanity and by a white culture that consistently feels in charge of...well...everything.
But Chris is not about to let that happen, and finds a way out in a very bloody sort of way. I'm not going to lie, I wish it hadn't happened the way it did. It portrays how POC are conditioned by us to believe they act more violently than we do, a sort of gas lighting of actions. I read a quote the other day that rings true, "Americans perpetually regard themselves as victims of horrific, savage, tragic violence but never the perpetrators of it."
But on the other hand, I was lifted up in my chair, shouting in my mind HELL YES, GO CHRIS. I wanted to do everything he was doing. I was right behind him. I know that we've become politically sensitive to every single thing we do, write, and say. But hot damn, I believe this move needed to end this way, whether I think it's right or not.
Get Out is a study in and of our culture. It's also a wink at those of us whose skin is a bit lighter than others. It's a "We see you as well as the cultured bullshit you portray" type of scenario, where the monsters exist under a well-meaning and faux-woke mentality.
We want to believe that we are racially sensitive, that we plug into what other cultures and skin colors face daily. I was really rooting for Rose until I wasn't. She disappointed me like so many others who use their whiteness at the last minute when desperately needed, or use it without realizing they are. She knew it and offended me and my white skin in doing so.
I have been Rose. I lament that.
I have been Rose. I lament that.
I loved this movie, and was able to sink into it. I am not overly shocked at what played out, because things that happen to POC or other cultures have become another part of the day for many, for us. You can take the monstrous middle and end of the movie, and insert happenings from the past or recent daily news. Ethnic cleansing, termination of blood lines, the seeking of a perfect race, or the current step-by-step demeaning of different religions and skin tones, and the denial by many that it's happening. We don't blink and have become accustomed to the atrocities. And that, my movie-going friends, is the biggest horror move ever made. Go see this movie.
I give this movie 4.5 stars out of 5 stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5