Get Out (2017) - Movie Review: The horror of "The Sunken Place"

March 13, 2017

9/10 Jordan Peele masterfully mirrors the socio-political state of racism in America, and it's terrifyingly relatable. 

This post includes minor spoilers about the films tone and social commentary. No major story spoilers.

Much like previous years, Get Out isn't the first good horror theatrical release of 2017 (I'm sure many people would like to forget Rings ever happened). However, it is the best so far and may wind up one of best films of 2017, regardless of genre. The film stars Daniel Kaluuya (Sicario, Black Mirror) who plays Chris Washington, a young black man who takes a trip to meet the family of his white girlfriend, Rose Armitage (played by Allision Williams). Upon arrival he is met with a passive aggressive form of racism from Roses parents, Missy and Dean Armitage, played by Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford. The conversations between the four play out for some awkward dialogue that seems to be constantly set on racial themes. These conversations aren't inherently racist mind you, with comments from Dean that constantly try to get Chris see him as a man that loves black people. It is from those comments and dialogue that Chris has with the family that start to set up a very uneasy and unfamiliar feeling with both him and the audience. Chris is an outsider, much like the audience, and it's with this sense of fear of being singled out, unwanted, hated, or perhaps even obsessed, where Get Out really capitalizes on the horror. We're in this situation with Chris, and it couldn't feel more terrifyingly relatable. 

The film touches upon race more so than I would have thought, and that's not a bad thing. From the very first pieces of dialogue that come from our protagonist the rest just feels natural. So natural in fact that while watching I could feel the same sense of uneasiness that Chris did throughout his encounters with the Armitage family. It had brought me back to the times where I felt the push of being someone new, someone apart from the norm or the accepted. The film does this too with the advent of "The Sunken Place," a hypnotic state that Missy places Chris in to essentially paralyze him. She does this by using the insecurities, doubts, and fears of Chris' past, rendering him immobile. Without spoiling too much this is later used in the film to trap Chris for the gain of the Armitage family. This is important because this is much the same experience that African Americans in America have today. The feeling that you can't do anything, the feeling that you're being used, controlled, or looked upon as something less. That same feeling extends to other minorities as well. Most recently with President Trump's "travel ban," but that's another post for another day on a very different blog. 

As much as the film touches upon racism it also touches upon reverse racism. Peele has raised the question on both sides of the coin. Again, without revealing too much, the Armitage family, as racist as their commentary is, have selected Chris to be a part of their family based on his "superior qualities," most of which are very stereotypical in nature. Quite the subtle twist, but it does make sense in the overall goal of the Armitage family. 

Get Out boasts one of the most detail driven films I've seen in quite some time. I love when movies are written with intent and purpose, and this one is no exception, it's littered with details and call outs. Everything is purposeful, and it warrants a second and third viewing. Throughout the film there are many parallels, the most obvious being the deer. It shows up more than a few times and is both metaphorical, in that Chris becomes the deer in the headlights, paralyzed by fear, and subtextual, as shown in a short monologue by Dean Armitage where he explains that their population should be controlled because there's just too many. Another instance of this is Chris' friend, a TSA agent (he nearly steals the show), who checks in on Chris multiple times. A long story short, his friend the TSA agent not only protects people from terrorists in the air, but also on the ground, another nod to the current state of foreign and domestic acts of terror in America. One of the most riveting scenes however comes at the films ending. Chris is standing in the street with two characters dead on the floor as a police car pulls up. Chris, both him and the audience knowing he is in the right, stands up with his hands raised. It's a powerful scene that really resonates with the police violence over the past few years.

Social commentary aside, this film is wholly original and not concerned with world building. At it's heart it's a character driven story about identity and how the rest of the world can hinder or help one's perceived identity and the ones they unknowingly project onto others. It's great to walk into a theater needing no origin stories or knowledge of the characters in the story. It's comedic relief is nothing short of hilarious and it feels very natural. Classic horror tropes are also toyed with and used in the film, and to great effect. The last line of the film really brings that out, where Chris' friend the TSA agent says, "Man, I told you not to go in that house." The line comments on the silliness of modern horror, where characters just do things that are so stupid you want to yell at the screen. Get Out, however, justifies Chris' trip to the crazy white peoples house and it just works. There are some very memorable sequences as well (such the sunken place) that are beautifully shot and emotionally conveyed with visual prowess. The dialogue, humor, thrill, and scares, all come so natural and that is truly a testament to the team that crafted this film. 

It's a film about being the outsider, the fear of being used, but more than that it's a film about prejudice, both politically and socially. Get Out and go watch this film. 


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