Friday, August 25, 2017

Movie Review: Get Out (2017)

Get Out written and directed by Jordan Peele

An inter-racial couple (Chris is black, Rose is white) goes for a weekend visit to Rose's parents, who live in a large, isolated house. Viewers know things won't go well for two reasons. They hit a deer on the road and the police officer who takes the report seems a little racist. Even before that, a pre-credits sequence shows a young black man walking in a white suburban neighborhood where he is kidnapped by someone wearing a medieval helmet.

Rose's dad is a neurosurgeon and her mom is a psychologist whose specialty is hypno-therapy. They have a palatial estate and two staff members--a groundskeeper and a maid, both of whom are black. The servants are very smiley and a bit odd, making Chris wonder. Rose's brother shows up and he's very interested in Chris's experiences as a black man, also disconcerting. The brother for the annual family party happening the next day. Rose didn't know about for some reason. After a night of weird things happening, the party starts with a lot of old white people who are both chatty and awkward with Chris. Things go from weird to bad soon enough.

The movie is a solid psychological horror film with a slow but tense build-up to the final act, where things get crazy in a bad way for Chris. Viewers can see it coming and Chris is slightly blinded by his love for Rose, making his hanging around believable. The believability is helped by Chris's friend Rod, a black TSA worker who is both comic relief and an outlet for audience opinion. When they talk on the phone about the weirdness of the servants and the mom's job in hypnosis, Rod puts two and two together and finds a warning sign that Chris isn't ready to admit is there. Rod's paranoia is over-the-top enough that Chris dismisses it as being too exaggerated to be believed. If only Chris knew he was in a horror film.

The movie is also a fascinating depiction of racial tension. A lot of horror films have red-neck type villains who mistrust and mutilate outsiders, often regardless of skin color. This movie makes the rich white liberal set into the villains and while they aren't into lynching, they are certainly more into treating blacks like property than persons. This movie is all about skin color and systemic racism. The movie holds up an uncomfortable mirror to society, saying racism isn't just done by right-wing nutters. There's plenty of fellow travelers on the left wing who don't even realize their subtle yet damaging attitudes. The alternate ending on the DVD gives the movie a lot more thematic punch than the theatrical-release ending, so definitely watch that.


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