Get Out: White People Are Not to Be Trusted
Jordan Peele (of Key and Peele fame) is making an explosive directorial debut with Get Out, a must-see for everyone. Not only does the movie perfectly balance gory horror and satire, it also explores what it means to be the only person of colour in an exclusively white space.
In Get Out, Chris (deftly played by Daniel Kaluuya) is a budding photographer from New York who takes a road trip upstate with his girlfriend, Rose Armitage (Allison Williams), to meet her parents for the first time. Her family home is located in a secluded, forested, extremely white suburb.
But first, on the way there they hit a deer and Rose proves her woke-ness by questioning a cop who asks for
Chris’ ID despite the fact that she was the one driving. Chris’ nonchalant “it-happens-all-the-time” shrug speaks volumes in this moment.
Upon arrival, Rose’s hypnotherapist mom, Missy (Catherine Keener) and neurosurgeon dad, Dean (Bradley Whitford) are almost uncomfortably welcoming. The two create many awkward moments for Rose, who just wants to show off her new boyfriend without Dean’s embarrassing dad jokes. The two quickly realize that they’ve arrived on the weekend of the famous Armitage family garden party, meaning that Chris is not only meeting Rose’s rich white parents but also the entire community and all their friends. At the party, everyone is just a little too nice. At first, Chris mistakes this as Rose’s friends and family trying to cope with their interracial relationship (a first for the family), but he soon realizes that something more insidious is happening.
Not only is the suburb glaringly white, but there is something strange going on with the few other black people Chris encounters. The groundskeeper (Marcus Henderson) and maid (Betty Gabriel) seem too happy to be working for the Armitages. Andrew (Lakeith Stanfield), a young man dating a white woman 30 years his senior, is too agreeable and content to submit to the Armitages’ whims. All of this makes Chris suspicious and he calls his best friend Rod (hilariously portrayed by LilRel Howery), who tells Chris to "get the fuck out" of that white house of horrors.
Chris’s foray into suburbia (read as: white-land) begins with microaggressions. It quickly escalates into awkward questions regarding racial stereotypes (uncomfortable giggles rippled through the audience as an old white aunty asked Rose if it was true whether or not Chris’s penis was huge). By the end of the film, the casual racism becomes (SPOILER ALERT) full-blown, gun-toting racism.
Get Out has been receiving nearly universal acclaim since its release. At the time of writing, the film had a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a near impossibility. Though it’s still early in its release (and some butt-hurt old white dude is sure to write a scathing review soon), all the initial praise is completely deserved. The film may sound absurd and silly at first—a horror movie in which the monsters are rich white liberals sounds like a bad John Oliver bit—but Peele manages to subvert every misgiving the audience may have about the concept and delivers some truly horrific moments.
Another thing of note is the acting. There is not a single weak performance in the cast. Daniel Kaluuya carries all the nuance of a dude caught in the most awkward situation of his life and is fighting every urge to call out the bullshit he sees. Allison Williams is the perfect mix of delicate white girl and manipulative bitch. I’m not sure if it’s a coincidence that she has those bangs that every white girl in a romcom has (thanks Zooey Deschanel) but it’s a choice that adds so much to her character. This boring white girl would have those bangs. Keener and Whitford’s portrayal of fake woke white parents was equal amounts of awkward and creepy. Henderson and Gabriel’s forced happiness is played with such care that the only words that come to mind are “uncanny valley.”
Get Out really succeeds in how realistic it is. At every turn, after every paranormal and spooky moment, real life asserts itself, reminding viewers that—though hyperbolized—Chris’s experience as the only black person in a predominantly white space (minus the one token Asian) is universal and relatable to many in America. That’s what’s truly scary about Get Out. Its similarities to reality reminds the audience that something as simple as a walking down the street can be as scary for black people as a serial killer-infested house is for stupid white people in horror movies.