Get Out: Review
Get Out was produced and directed by Jordan Peele. There are so many great things that I would like to highlight. This film has a different vibe to it, compared to others that have been produced with the same subject matter. It was nominated for many awards including Oscars for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Actor, Best Directing, and Best Original Screenplay (for which Peele did win).
Before I get into the great storytelling and narrative, I want to talk about the aesthetics. The film was a contender for Oscars' Best Picture, and I can see exactly why. Get Out has a fresh and sharp appeal. I believe it embraces the horror aesthetic so beautifully. And even though it is a semi-low budgeted movie, you can't tell that the production skimp in any way. The best way I can describe the aesthetic is one that embodies an "Afrofuturistic" movement.
Afrofuturistic could be defined as a sci-fi story that stars black people as the protagonists. It’s a way of talking about black people in a way that seems hopeful. An idea that we would one day be engaged with science, technology, a future in space, time travel, a future in the utopian (or dystopian) landscapes. In regards to this groundbreaking film this couldn’t be more true. Especially since the lead character spends the entire time trying to fight against being caught in this “sunken place” that the white people are trying to suppress him into. This type of genre isn’t necessarily sci-fi, but it appeals to an aesthetics that visually and sensually captures a world where black people are able to dictate their surroundings and take control of their future. It speaks on the troubled past of African Americans, how that trouble has blended into the present, and how we can learn from and improve race relations in our future.
This aesthetic works within the mechanics of a horror genre. However, there is a different feel to this horror film. There aren’t a lot of cuts or jumps. There are several long shots that added suspense to the story. Though music shouldn’t be the determining factor on whether a film is great or not, I do want to point out the power of music in this film. It has a beautiful use of instrumentals and song. And the music really did its job contributing and enhancing an overall leery sheen to the action.
Editorially, I would say the toughest part about this film was to balance horror and satire in a nightmare of enslavement. The editor has stated, “The hard thing to balance with the two tones was knowing when to cut off the humor and when to add more humor, and also when to use every scene as an opportunity to do a reveal.” This film was careful not to do reveals too soon and not to have them be over the top. With this type of editorial equation, it sets up the film to be both unsettling and hysterical. Peele has infused an age-old genre foundation of knowing that something is wrong, along with a racial and satirical edge. I can say that the music was one of my favorite aspects of the film. There was a great variety of both horrific and satirical sounds to add that balance of scary, yet hilarious.
On top of the amazing aesthetic, I believe the story telling is what makes this movie so great. The aesthetic and writing complimented each other perfectly. I enjoy when a film is able to both scare you, make you laugh, and teach you a lesson all at the same time. Get Out is a slow-burn type of film for the entire first half. It then begins to pile up clues leading to something being very wrong. When Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), the lead character, senses racial tension the audience doesn’t know if he is overreacting or if something is actually wrong. As writer/director, Peele does a fantastic job walking a fine line, staging exchanges that happen all the time but imbuing then with a huge degree of menace. I don’t want to give away too much of the film, but the final scene of the movie is an unpredictable thrill ride.
I don’t believe that Peele brings all of the elements together in the climax in a way that I think he could have. Nonetheless, he proves to be a strong visual artist. He has found unique ways to tell a story that increasingly goes off the rails. The final act unfortunately allows a satirical, racially-charged issue to drop away, which was the only disappointing part of the narrative. At the same time, this perfectly portrays the feeling Peele wanted the audience to walk away with. What he hit out of the park was using an easily identifiable racial tension to make a satirical horror movie. He approached horror in a way that has never been done before. The result is both black and white people walking away from the theater with their eyes and minds broadened more than they were before.