By BETHANY HUANG
The tagline of the satirical comedy Dear White People is “A black face in a very white place.” Get Out takes the premise of Dear White People and applies it to the world of horror, creating a fresh new scare in the monotony of the horror movie genre.
Chris, the main character in Get Out, is not driven by a fear of the unknown or the paranormal. He is driven by his fear of the known, the very real racism and racial bias black people face in everyday life. “Do your parents know I’m black?” He asks his girlfriend, Rose, as they pack to visit her parents.
Much of Get Out introduces the premise of the story. Chris meets Rose’s parents, Dean and Missy, and although many, if not all, of their statements towards Chris have to do with race, Chris brushes it off, believing in their eagerness to accept their daughter’s boyfriend. Chris is also introduced to the groundskeeper, Walter, and the housekeeper, Georgina, who are both black. Their attitude is disconcerting — they are almost like wind-up dolls.
The pattern continues. Chris meets friends of Rose’s family, a mainly white crowd, and no one will let Chris’s race go undiscussed. Even when Chris attempts to find common territory with the only other black man there, his attempts to bond with him are strangely deflected. Just like Georgina and Walter, he is slightly out of his body and not completely present.
As the horror builds, it is masterfully balanced by comedy, as can only be expected from the writer and director Jordan Peele of Key & Peele, which is famous for its sketches like “Substitute Teacher” and “Obama’s Anger Translator.” Chris’s hysterical friend Rod provides comedic relief and is also the voice of reason. Rod is the one that confirms something is wrong; the black man Chris met at Rose’s family party has been reported missing from his own neighborhood, yet somehow he’s here in Rose’s neighborhood.
With one plot twist, the story screeches into a truly frightening direction after the painstaking setup. There is bondage, brain surgery, guns, hypnosis and taxidermy — all motivated by race. In some scenes, you can’t even bear to look. The gore is extreme, and with the massive cast of characters, it seems endless. Even with one person down, there are still five to go.
Get Out confronts a serious topic, but it does not make a political statement. It is simply a fulfillment of an understandable fear, and it prys at an uncomfortable theme. Get Out has brought new blood to the horror movie genre and is succeeding at it, bringing in more than $100 million at the box office and making Jordan Peele the first black writer and director to do so. It is currently rated 99% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and 8.3 on IMDb.