Movie Review: A Cogent, Realistic, Psychological Thriller? Get Out!
It has been a long-time running unspoken rule when making horror movie protagonists: the audience must feel superior to the character. This is why we find ourselves often pulling our hair out wondering why someone could be so stupid as to check the basement at midnight, or continue to live in a clearly haunted house when it would be healthier to live in a van down by the river. Writer and director Jordan Peele ignored that rule as he crafts the most organic horror in cinema history.
The twisted tale begins innocently as a young, interracial couple Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and Rose (Allison Williams) decide to visit Rose’s parents after having been dating for a few months. Rose’s parents, it turns out, live in a very secluded manor tucked into the woods where everyone’s behaviour seems just a little… off. Is their racial ignorance merely a symptom of living in a heavily predominantly white society, or is it something more sinister?
What Peele cleverly manages to do here is put the entire “horror movie” concept into perspective. Largely thanks to M. Night Shyamalan, the viewer of any horror movie finds oneself constantly guessing what’s going to happen next. Being a page ahead in the script makes the viewer feel more secure, and less likely to be startled. What happens when a viewer is trying to guess what is going on in this aberrant tale, is that they break down possibilities as such: best-case scenario is that this nice young black man is in the woods with a large group of creepy racists. This is the best-case scenario because it doesn’t involve supernatural-horror influences, just regular-horror influences. Worst-case scenario is left up to the audience's’ imaginations. Now, I won’t divulge here what the situation happened to be (you should go find out for yourself), but the mere fact that a sizable portion of the tension of this horror movie doesn’t come from something out of this world, or a one-in-a-million chance run-in with a psychotic killer, but from a very real and present social issue, this makes the movie feel more real and natural than just about any horror film to date. It’s truly artistic the way they made the audience question the degree of sinisterness of racial tension in general.
This organic-feel didn’t stop at incorporating day-to-day threats, though. As previously stated, the sense of superiority to the main character is non-existent for this film, and as such caused the audience to relate to Chris more, bringing them into his experiences. How did Peele accomplish this feat? Simple: good writing. The movie didn’t rely on suspension of belief for the audience to accept Chris’ predicament. Instead, it relied on a carefully constructed storyline that left no holes, and very strong character building, leading the audience to understand that Chris is in a genuine predicament through no fault of his own, and not guilty of hubris like some kids with a video camera looking for a witch in the woods for whatever reason.
Get Out still provides other elements found in horror (jump scares, twisting plots, hair-raising music, etc.), added to that extra level of connection, while having a heavy theme of racial isolation and prejudice. By doing so, Peele effectively puts his audience through the fearful and helpless emotions we’re used to while watching horror, but superimposing this over someone feeling desperately culturally victimized. The mix of emotions in this situation causes an audience to truly empathize with the misunderstood character. This is truly art, and Get Out wins. It wins at movie-ing. Go see it because it’s a real thriller. Go see it because of its unique plot. Go see it because of its social discussion. Whichever reason appeals to you, it doesn’t matter. It is a real piece of art you won’t want to miss. You should get out, and go see it.