Get Out is a cracking movie. A black guy’s white girlfriend takes him to see her parents. She’s neglected to tell them that Chris is black. Oops. Still, the parents seem like well-meaning white liberals (even if they are implicitly racist in trying to talk to Chris about the things they assume would typically interest a black guy). And the parents also have a couple of black staff working for them in their big house. And those staff are acting veeeery weirdly, as if they’re brutalised prisoners or something.
It’s an extremely tense and unsettling opening and, in and of itself, an interesting comment upon the white liberal elites of the US. Then it turns out that the parents are having a large group of friends over. The friends turn out to be creepily solicitous, as if they want something from Chris. Are they looking to enslave him somehow? Or is there something even more twisted going on?
Get Out keeps you guessing all the way through. In that sense, we’re looking for clues and trying to interpret things, even though there’s no actual dead body or crime scene. It’s disorienting and unnerving to say the least. The most innocuous of actions and phrases ends up becoming symbolic, portentous, distorted and/or corrupted. It makes you scream with sheer dread, even though everything appears so normal… too normal… hyper normal!
Chris goes out on the veranda for a sneaky cigarette during his first evening at the parents’ house. When he comes back in, the mother (who is a therapist) regresses him through a mixture of suggestion and hypnotism without his permission. She takes him back to when he was a child and his mother was murdered. The next morning, he doesn’t quite remember the session, but he feels there is something wrong, very wrong.
You don’t want to watch, but you can’t drag your eyes away as the viewer. It’s like you’ve been mesmerised too. And, in a way, we voyeuristically have been. We are as complicit and exploited as the players of the piece. We feel thrilled and guilty at the same time. The film turns you inside out.
Get Out is American gothic at its best. Its so steeped in Americana that it’s impossible for (even the dullest of viewers) to watch the film in a purely superficial way. It’s like you’re watching or experiencing all of black American history up to the very moment.
And even when we’ve had the big ‘reveal’ moment, the tension doesn’t abate. Perhaps there simply isn’t any escape for a young black guy like Chris? There isn’t anything stupid or gratuitous about Get Out. Indeed, there is surprisingly little gore. The true horror is psychological, philosophical, social and moral, rather. As a result, it’s a film that’ll stay with you for a very long time, if not forever. But you’ll be a better person for having seen it. It score 10 out of 10 from me (a first).