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“Get out! Get out!” said common sense,
“You know that something’s wrong.
You linger at your own expense,
But shan’t do so for long.
You feel your muscles growing tense,
Your nerves a warning gong.
Would safety ever cause suspense?”
Yet still you play along.

When signs of danger first commence,
You’ll surely waver on the fence,
But when the strangeness of events
Grows ever more and more intense,
You’ll quickly wish you’d scorned pretense
And listened to your common sense
And all the warning signs about
The fact you should have gotten out!
_____________________

MPAA rating: R (for frequent language and some violence)

Not being a big fan of horror, I tend to only watch those that have a significant amount of positive buzz, and Get Out is about as positively buzzy as any movie of 2017, especially now that it’s received several Oscar nominations. Despite his reputation as a comedian, director Jordan Peele crafted a narrative that clearly tapped into America’s social consciousness more than anyone expected, and now that I’ve watched it, I can see why.

Get Out definitely has influences from other films, notably The Stepford Wives, but it’s really more of a dark twist on Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, another ripple-causing film about race. When black photographer Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) goes with his white girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) to meet her family, he’s hesitant about how he’ll be received, but her parents (Bradley Whitford and Caroline Keener) seem generous and warm to him, perhaps a bit too warm. More troubling is the odd behavior of the black servants and visitors on their wealthy estate, who seem bizarrely genteel and, well, don’t act like black people, one telling contradiction being when a fist bump from Chris is met with an oblivious handshake. The horror!

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Despite its loose categorization as a horror-comedy (the comedy is relegated to one side character), Get Out does seem to hearken back to an older class of horror movie, the kind where a large chunk of the movie is kept tame and spent noticing strange causes for unease before coming to a crazy head near the end. For an apparently low budget production, though, Peele makes it look excellent, creating that uneasy mood with disquieting music and some evocative visuals. Plus, it starts with one of those extended one-shot scenes I so admire. The acting is also good across the board, though I don’t think Kaluuya’s performance warranted a Best Actor nomination, despite a few strong dramatic moments.

Of course, the quality of the movie is beside the point since everyone seems much more interested in its social satire, and the fact that wealthy liberals are the target did come as a surprise. Rose’s parents are textbook white liberal elites, as are their wealthy friends at a dinner party, all of whom fawn over Chris to an uncomfortable degree. “Black is in fashion,” as one guest states. It’s a cogent example of passive racism. Get Out shows that the way progressives often highlight racial differences, even in an apparently supportive or positive manner, can still make minorities uncomfortable. Shouldn’t the goal be for such differences to not matter at all? While there were still a few moments that annoyed me (why are cops always implied to be racist?), the social themes help Get Out aspire to a higher class of horror, reminding me of how The Silence of the Lambs (another February release) also stayed relevant throughout a whole year and transcended its genre at the Oscars.

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As strong a film as Get Out is overall, I still wouldn’t have foreseen its Best Picture nomination, but I can understand it. As much as I suspect that its many nominations were an easy way for the Academy to avoid the whole #OscarsSoWhite controversy, its timeliness does deserve recognition. That said, with its 99% Rotten Tomatoes score, it does veer into the overhyped category, for me at least. Plus, there’s something about the ending that makes me feel it missed a chance for an ideal final moment. I won’t say it for spoilers’ sake, but one extra line at the end would have been a perfect closer, so I can’t help but feel a tiny bit disappointed when I think a film squandered an opportunity, however small it may be. It’s still a better ending than the alternate one I’ve heard about, though. Get Out has exceeded more than a few expectations, and even if it’s not as faultless as many say, the fact that it’s still being talked about a year later means it did something right.

Best line: (Chris, with a good reminder of how minorities can feel) “All I know is sometimes, when there’s too many white people, I get nervous, you know?”

Rank: List Runner-Up

© 2018 S.G. Liput
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