When all is said and impaled with deer antlers, the ‘Get Out’ (2017) image that stays with you is actor Daniel Kaluuya’s face frozen in horror, his eyes red-rimmed and crying, thinking… “I see white people.”
Already earning Oscar buzz amidst a hum of universal acclaim, Jordan Peele’s satirical horror film serves up scathing social commentary in a terrifying comedy/horror hybrid in the guise of ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.’
Following Kuluuya’s Chris, a gifted black photographer, who accompanies his white girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) to her parents’ home for the weekend, ‘Get Out’ sets up what seems like the typical black-man-in-white-spaces comedy rendered sinister by a pre-credits scene featuring a black man abducted in suburbia.
Expertly building the tension and layering seemingly mundane scenes over the underlying horror, Peele, who both writes and directs the film, fashions a compelling reflection on “post-racial” America while nodding at current affairs.
Calling on Trayvon Martin as a black man walks uneasily through the suburbs and the likes of Sandra Bland as a white police officer pulls the car Chris is driving in over on a deserted road, ‘Get Out’ hits on a number of pertinent levels.
Hardest, however, at white liberals who pride themselves on voting for Obama and admiring black excellence from a place of deep-seated racial superiority that attempts to lend legitimacy through articulation.
Drawing out those attributes to a horrifying degree, Peele alights on the Armitages. A white liberal family who seems to welcome Chris into their home while employing two strange black servants.
Ashamed of what that old slavery chestnut looks like but completely cool with their daughter dating a black man, the oddness escalates when the Armitages throw an almost all-white party where the guests rabidly proclaim “black is in fashion” and comment on Chris’ talent and physique with more intensity than one can rationally chalk up to simply complimentary.
And that’s when things get really weird.
Weirder than Chris’ girlfriend’s mother hypnotizing him and trapping him in “The Sunken Place” where his screams are futile as he regards all that unfolds and too weird to spoil the twist.
What one can say is best said by Chris: “When there’s too many white people I get nervous.”
Speaking to the black minority experience in America and the regard white people may have for excellence in black bodies in lines like “the mind is a terrible thing to waste,” Peele skillfully illustrates the balance of disdain and admiration perhaps inherent in the often backhanded compliments delivered by white liberals. Woke, as they may be.
“It feels like the country as a whole is living in The Sunken Place. We can try and scream but it almost feels impossible to break through,” says Peele in an interview with Movie Maniacs.
Highlighting black exploitation and dehumanization in an incredibly inventive horror story about neoslavery, Peele, in his directorial debut, is real, relevant and absolutely terrifying.
“I just wanted to make sure that we don’t stop talking about race just because its’s inconvenient or uncomfortable,” says Peele whose film in a comedic, irreverent and overarching way via Emmett Till and the black Bachelor in Paradise seems to say:
“Ayo! So are we still dating white women?”