‘Get Out’ Peeles back racial tensions in psychological thriller

Category:  The Arts
Tuesday, March 28th, 2017 at 5:00 PM
 ‘Get Out’ Peeles back racial tensions in psychological thriller by Natalie Wiepert

As a fan of the Key & Peele comedic duo, hearing that Jordan Peele had written and directed a horror film was definitely unexpected.

At this point, you have likely already heard that “Get Out” is worth watching on the big screen. Now in the sixth week since its debut, the film has grossed $148 million. With a budget of only about $5 million, this is a huge feat for Peele’s directorial debut.

It lives up to the hype.

When Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), an African-American man, goes to meet his Caucasian girlfriend’s parents for the weekend, the Armitage family seems nice enough. As time progresses he realizes something is off about this home.

Chris becomes the subject of unwanted attention and fascination and aside from his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) being with him, experiences social isolation. Even the few other black people he meets there cannot relate to him.  

Peele satirically executes the concept of modern racial discrimination in the political times we are living in. He takes on prejudice in an less expected form. Racial issues are often brought to light in inspirational dramas or comedy—but in a psychological thriller, not so much.

This is still a Peele film, so naturally the plot is laced with comedic relief throughout. LilRel Howery’s performance as a TSA agent will give you a laugh and ease some tension.

The story unfolds in a slow suspenseful buildup— no cheap scares here. There is great attention to detail with subtle metaphors. When Rose’s father Dean (Bradley Whitford) shows Chris around the house, he points out a picture of his grandfather who had got beaten out of the Berlin Olympics by an African-American man, Jesse Owens, and states he had “never quite gotten over it.”

In one of the standout scenes, Rose’s brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones) reminds Chris that the key to Jiu Jitsu is not physical strength, but being mentally cunning, always staying a few moves ahead of your opponent. Something that comes into play as Chris attempts to figure out all that is happening at this mysterious estate.

Societal race perceptions are brought to light. It’s easy to pick up on the real life parallels. Rose’s father tells Chris he “would’ve voted for Obama for a third term if he could’ve.” Chris is assumed to be highly athletic by Jeremy. A relative casually mentions he is a big Tiger Woods fan when discussing golf.

These kind of awkward interactions can be all too real outside of the story. People see race before they connect with an identity. Some go out of their way to make a point that they are tolerant by trying to relate to a racial stereotype, which only socially isolates us all further from each other.

A film that takes on racism so bluntly and intelligently is long overdue.

“Get Out” is thought provoking and will surprise you— then get you to watch it again and figure out all the foreshadowing cues you may have missed. 

Natalie Wiepert is the managing digital editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

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