Plot Summary: A young African-American man visits his Caucasian girlfriend's mysterious family estate.
Director: Jordan Peele
Writer: Jordan Peele
Runtime: 1hr 43min
- Daniel Kaluuya as Chris Washington
- Allison Williams as Rose Armitage
- Catherine Keener as Missy Armitage
- Bradley Whitford as Dean Armitage
- Marcus Henderson as Walter
- Betty Gabriel as Georgina
- Lakeith Stanfield as Andrew Logan King
- Stephen Root as Jim Hudson
Review: by MiaFor months, we have been anticipating the release of Get Out, a film that debuted with a trailer that promised authentic cultural woes turned horror film. Written and directed by Jordan Peele (the famous second half of comedy duo Key & Peele), Get Out is Peele’s breakout film and Peele is already receiving recognition for the film across online mediums and from film critics nationwide.
Rotten Tomatoes has already scored the film with a rare 100% and, having watched the film myself, I can’t say that I am surprised by this rating. This film provides a fresh perspective on horror responses developed from identifiable threats and relatable scenarios, not from creative gruesome acts. In recent years, horror films have been trying to return from the lazy shock factor of torture and pain to psychological twists that leave the audience feeling both vulnerable and intrigued at the same time. Get Out not only tackles this challenge to be psychologically thrilling, it does so from a largely under-represented perspective: the Black Experience.
In Get Out, Chris Washington, is played by the consistently impressive Daniel Kaluuya. Watch Daniel’s episode of Black Mirror, if you haven’t gotten to know him as an actor, that’s an equally great place to start. Anyways, Chris finds himself traveling to the secluded woods of God knows where in order to introduce himself to the family of his new girlfriend, Rose Armitage (Allison Williams).
Chris and Rose begin their trip to the Armitage Estate. On the way, Chris calls his best friend Roger to check in. Roger is the voice of reason and black humor within the film. Although his relationship with Rose is clearly amiable, he still warns Roger that he is heading towards failure by putting himself in a situation to meet the white family of Rose all alone in a secluded environment. Roger accepts the prejudiced humor of his friend and hangs up on him, likely because he is already worried about how things will go. When he asks Rose whether she warned her family that he is black, she dismisses the warning as impossible to handle tactfully. They arrive to the welcome arms of her parents and the discomforting humor of her father. The Armitage Estate is impressive, acres of land managed by the family’s personal staff. Chris quickly learns of the family’s prestige within the medical world and old money status having inherited the estate from the previous generation of Armitages. Rose’s mother, Missy, is a renowned Psychiatrist and Hypnotist. Her father, Dean (played by a transformed Bradley Whitford), is a successful Neurosurgeon and leader of the secluded community that the Armitage Estate resides within. Rose also has a clearly volatile brother, Jeremy, who is attending school to follow in his father’s footsteps and arrives later.
At this point, we start to get the cultural woes of a man who inserts himself into the world of his spouse, knowing that his race will remain a focus of the entire encounter. Since Chris is Rose’s “first black boyfriend,” he understands that this will be a learning experience for the family that he must suffer through. No worries though, Rose swears her father is the picture of non-racist wealth, and “would vote for Obama a third time if he could.” So off they go to meet the family and tour the estate. Chris is introduced to the family’s housekeeper and landscaper, both black, and although his face betrays nothing, Dean seems to sense the unspoken judgment and acknowledges that it was not their intent to come off this way. He knows that having black “servants” makes him look racist. The two black employees are not only a confirmation of Chris’s discomfort, but they are also creepy red flags of something else he can’t quite understand but senses are amiss. The Housekeeper, Georgina, is immediately eerie, while the landscaper waits until later that night to nearly give Chris a heart attack with his own hostile and unpredictable behavior.
Still, Chris is attempting to humor the entire awkward situation for the sake of his four month long irreplaceable relationship, and seems very good at navigating the fragile “we’re not racist” pretense of his welcome to the Armitage Estate. It’s easy to relate to how he dodges questions that are faux pas and shrugs off clear prejudices from characters such as Jeremy. The only real issue that the family seems to have with him is that he smokes. Dean even offers Missy’s hypnotism skills to rid him of the disgusting habit. Chris declines, making it clear that he does not feel comfortable with such a process. Still, hours later after waking up for fresh air in the middle of the night, Chris finds himself trapped, hypnotized and totally violated by the invasion of Missy into his mind. The entire situation is probably the first major red flag of the film. It’s almost as if Chris has to prove to himself that this violation is not something to take personal, it’s something to overcome his sensitivity of.
Telling Rose of the invasion doesn’t seem to get him anywhere, and most likely influences Chris’s motivation to dismiss the moment as just another cultural difference that he’s overreacting about. Their visit continues, escalating as even more characters arrive on the estate to gawk at Chris like a show horse. The Armitages coincidentally scheduled their annual community party for the same weekend and their entire community of wealthy isolated white elites comes to commune and meet Rose’s love interest. Every conversation Chris has at the party is pure racial impropriety. A guest will want to talk about his skin, his black experiences, or even just touch his body to rate his physique. Rose is at least as mortified as Chris is during this experience, but still, the combination of little red flags Chris has been getting every time he speaks to anyone on the estate combined with the responsibility of accepting the racism of everyone around him as ignorance weighs on him mentally. He gets only a short moment of relief when he finds another black person at the party: Logan (Lakeith Sanfield). That’s short lived, however, because Logan is not who Chris hopes to connect with. Similar to the other people of color that he has run into on this estate, Logan proves to be just as eerie, hostile, and alarmingly polite. Turns out, although he’s the same age as Chris, he is attending the party with his elderly girlfriend and is totally disconnected from the black experience from what Chris can interpret. Still, Chris can’t shake that he recognizes Logan. So while in a conversation with a large group hoping to get the black experience from either Chris or Logan, he sneaks a photo on his camera phone. Let’s just say one creepy event leads to another from there and Chris begins to understand that something more sinister is going on at the estate than the regular run-of-the-mill affluent ignorance.
Chris is literally in a fight for his life, trapped with no one he can trust nearby. Roger attempts to be a support, but without much information, it is up to Chris to survive this weekend with the Armitages, not knowing who to trust or why those around him are behaving as they do. By the time Chris gets the answers that he needs, it is do or die.
What I Didn’t Like:
Normally, this section goes second, but since it’s so short I will just clarify first: the science. The premise of this horror film is entirely scientific, yet the movie and writing spend no time really explaining what the hell is going on to create the bizarre situation Chris finds himself trapped in. In this house full of doctors, no one stops to really say what the fetish-driven, world changing operation Chris is subject to is really for. It feels like a major plot hole, despite not taking away from the film as a whole. I also don’t like that the only real monologue we get from the villainous community poses that all this blatant targeting of black lives has nothing to do with race and everything to do with what is trendy in affluent culture… Scratch that…maybe I do find that explanation intriguing. Maybe these people much like those who behave similarly in real life, are convinced that their actions aren’t about racism and oppression, but about gaining the most desired and the most treasured. We are a commodity to them (which is racist! Back to not liking the explanation as an alternative to racist motivations). Either way, I don’t feel the motivations and capabilities of the crazy community are fleshed out nearly enough. Perhaps there just wasn’t enough time.
What I Liked:
Chris. He has a few moments that we all want to slap him in the back of the head for… “No don’t walk in there!” “Run!” “Don’t just stand there!” type reactions that admittedly are a sign of successful engagement in a compelling thriller, but they still ring genuinely. We still are cheering for him every step of the way. We want sympathize with every experience and are emotionally invested in every little triumph Chris manages in his fight for survival. Honestly, it was most refreshing to see him let go and really fight for his life, him or them, and manage to come out on top a few times.
I also liked the mystery. The film doesn’t give you details to quickly. You have to piece together clues as Chris does. Peele succeeds here as both a writer and director. He’ll point the camera out at something that catches Chris’s eye, and both the audience and Chris are captured by the bizarre moment, discomforted and drawn in as we try to tie together little bits of information and decide whether these white people are really crazy or Chris is just paranoid from having grown up in a culture with a deep distrust of affluent white elites. Maybe it is all in our head? Maybe they’re not racist, he’s just uncomfortable? Maybe Georgina isn’t trying to kill him in his sleep for her boss? Who knows?
I also really liked the ending. Of course, I won’t spoil it, but the moment confirms for the reader how caught up they are in their own cultural references. You’re hoping Chris lives, you’re watching him fight with everything that he has, and then in rolls another threat to him. The final threat to Chris isn’t blatant violence or even clear danger; it is the audience’s knowledge of how this situation very well would go down in real life. Damn you Peele for making us watch the moment!
Once you’ve seen the movie, definitely let us know your thoughts on the final scene of Get Out!
Images Courtesy of IMDB