Over Spring Break I saw the horror-comedy film Get Out produced by the famous comedian Jordan Peele. This spine-chilling movie left everyone in the audience with a pit in their stomach and mind-boggling thoughts about some pretty tough topics.
In the film, Chris and his girlfriend Rose have been dating for five months and decide it is time to take their relationship to the next level- meeting the parents. Chris, being a young black man, admits he is nervous about the weekend trip upstate to meet Rose’s white parents for the first time. Rose assures her boyfriend her parents are going to love him and he has nothing to worry about. As the weekend goes on, Chris starts to feel more and more uneasy about the situation as her family acts very suspicious and strange towards him. Their casual racist comments here and there from achievements of Olympian Jesse Owens to loving Obama to Rose’s father consistently addressing Chris as “my man” sets an uneasy tone for Chris. At the family’s annual party, Rose introduces Chris to all her family friends- all old white couples who are creepily marveled by him. Every couple makes aggressively “nice” comments to him make it clear he is not like them “—whether it’s about his “frame” and “genetic makeup” or about black skin “being in fashion” or asking Rose if it’s true that “it” is better.” Severely uncomfortable, Chris attempts to reach out to the only other black people at the party but it taken aback by their seemingly rehearsed and zombie- like manner.There’s just something wrong. But, as we so often do in social or racial situations, Chris keeps trying to excuse their behavior. As the action continues, we realize that Chris is actually being bid on by the party goers to be a process of let’s just say “hypnosis procedure”.
I wont’ give away the entire action of the film because the element of surprise in the movie is what makes it so thrilling. The fine line that Chris walks between questioning whether something bad is going to happen or if he is just being overly paranoid about the racial tension in the air keeps the audience on their toes. Peele’s choice to make this story a horror film instead of a comedy or drama heightens the intensity and seriousness of racism. The film cleverly takes the dangers of “casual” or underlying racism and ties them in a social thriller. Get Out is “interested in showing how racist behavior that tries to be aggressively unscary is just as horrifying, and in making us feel that horror, in a visceral, bodily way.” Peele utilizes an easily identifiable racial tension and amplifies fears already embedded in the human nature for the purpose of movie horror.
The most terrifying element of this film is Chris’s overwhelming sense that he is being objectified or colonized by those around him. This article goes into detail about this terror: the feeling of having your personal space or your own body invaded by some other consciousness, usually one with malicious intent. Other horror films that take on this notion are Fun and Games, The Shining, Night of the Living Dead, and Silence of the Lambs.
This movie is both clever and terrifying because it doesn’t derive its horror from a paranormal entity or haunted mansion. Get Out takes the underlying and deep-seated fears within the human condition and brings them to a horrific level. Peel bring these extreme levels of racism into a present day setting in order to make a point. By exaggerating this racism into a horror film and using intense fear appeals, it brings the importance of this issue to the audience’s attention. The point was not to have the characters outwardly shouting racial slurs or hate speech. His aim is to look at those who profess their lack of racism, but only do so if they can maintain their dominance over black people in the most insidious manner possible. (Collider.com) This indirect approach allows the audience to be a part of this racial dynamic and empathize with Chris not because of the color of his skin, but because of his vulnerability, objectification and sense of hopelessness in this psychotic situation.