Wow, can you believe it? A horror movie released back in February got an Oscar nomination for Best Picture! Upon further inspection on Get Out, does it really deserve the four Academy Award nominations it received? Does it really deserve to join the ranks of The Godfather, Citizen Kane, Casablanca, Lawrence of Arabia, On the Waterfront, and the other Hollywood greats? Let’s take a look see.
It does seem to kick off to a good start: a White girl takes her Black boyfriend to her parents’ home in the middle of nowhere, stopped by a racist cop on the way. Then when he meets her folks, they seem to like him at first, at times even a little too much, things soon seem spookier when they are revealed to have Black servants in their home. Here, Jordan Peele demonstrates the talent in his craft. He establishes the events perfectly with the right balance between drama and tension—he evokes crucial questions, ones revolving around the mystery of the girl’s family.
The family’s dinner conversations keep the tension graph curving steadily higher, the genius sound design work catapulting us into the protagonist’s discomfort. Each of the family members seem average at first, except the brother seems to always be on some sort of drug while the mother spins a spoon along her tea cup in a hypnotic fashion. These little signs of the brilliance behind Peele’s direction fall deeper into the hidden psychology behind our lead character. The now iconic shot of Daniel Kaluuya’s red tear-stricken eyes has been widely seen everywhere for a reason: it draws an iconic narrative point when we know just about everything we need to know about his character, including how his origins influence his fears.
Expectedly, things turn freakier and freakier as his visit goes on. As he takes time to interact with their house servants, they always smile uncannily at him, as if even his own kind wants to get him. As his knowledge of the family becomes clearer, the screen direction works to throw you into his pit of blackness. While Peele’s genius direction ensured success, the acting really makes it stand out, especially Kaluuya’s unstable, doomed performance. Even the smaller roles stand out, particularly Betty Gabriel, who forces herself into your memory.
While the directing and acting were beyond exceptional, several major problems sink the film deeper into its own doom. Throughout the Black visitor’s interracial experience, nothing tells us what the White girlfriend thinks of her parents or anyone else, many subtle actions just tell us to look at the villains as typical motiveless horror movie forces. It becomes way more noticeable in the climax, which drives off into a usual horror climax scenario, complete with a CGI flame that looks made in a student’s midterm project.
But worst of all, Get Out takes an immature, hate fueled stand on racism.
Essentially: Black people are mentally screwed by those predatorial White people. Um… okay? Even if true historically, what Peele did here is unacceptable to White people. Yeah, we hear about when the media degrades people who aren't White, but guess what? That includes people descended from Europe too! Remember the awful 2004 “comedy” White Chicks? Several crass comedies over the last several decades even supply these stereotypes about Whiteness: greedy by the love of money, prideful in beauty, usually aggressive if Italian, often the ones labeled as the ones in the wrong about the meaning of life.
Get Out embraces these stereotypes, even taking things a step further by demonstrating the dangers of interracial dating and marriage. I mean, interracial dating originally set the protagonist up in preventable disaster in the first place! Talk about taking fifty steps backwards in societal progress. I can certainly tell you that I know plenty of interracial couples who live very happy, healthy marriages.
Despite what this movie wants to scare you out of, you should never think all other races want to damage your psychology. One of my best friends is Bulgarian, my coworker is Black, and I have had complete respect for them both because of their actions, not their ethnicities.
If we can take the extinguishment of fear communicated by Peele’s acute vision and understand how we’re much better at interracial communication than we give ourselves credit for, then I guarantee our globe will turn into a kinder place.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!