Get Out (2017)
This post contains spoilers!
centres around Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya), a young photographer meeting his girlfriend's family for the first time. Apprehensive before he has even left his own apartment, Chris asks Rose (Allison Williams) if her parents know that he's black - to which she reassures him that there's no problem.
When they arrive at the Armitage's family home, Rose's father Dean (Bradley Whitford) immediately gives Chris a tour of the house and grounds. Just as Chris begins to ease into his surroundings a little, he is snapped back into a weary state thanks to the reserved, albeit peculiar, behaviour of the Armitage's black gardener and housekeeper. And as the weekend progresses, the occurring events grow stranger.
Spotting the only other black male attendee of the Armitage's annual party, Chris attempts to strike up a conversation about this fact. Yet he is met with the same lifeless and almost robotic-like talk he shared with the groundskeeper. Recognising the man's face, Chris decides to sneakily send his friend Rod (LilRel Howery) a photograph, but accidentally triggers the camera's flash. This seems to pull the man from his passive state and send him into a wild frenzy; screaming for Chris to get out whilst he still can. Shaken, Chris believes it's time for him to politely say his goodbyes and swiftly leave, but it soon becomes apparent that this has never been an option.
I saw the trailer for Jordan Peele's directorial debut back when it was released last year and was immediately drawn in. First impressions naturally brought my train of thought to how culturally relevant it felt. Considering the continuing incidents of police brutality towards black people in America, the consequent
movement, and how racism is still rife around the globe; I knew it would be making a statement in some form, but I wasn't exactly sure what.
On the surface, the film is already shocking. With a plot that includes privileged, rich white people, turning black people (for the most part, young men) into passengers to facilitate their own desires, and in turn ridding them of their own lives, already sent me questioning...
How could people do this? How could white people treat black people as nothing apart from their appearance or the physical capabilities they have?
When white people have been doing this for years
. From the scapegoating by police, and stretching back as far as slavery; this point is echoed by the brainwashed housekeeper and gardener, Georgina (Betty Gabriel) and Walter (Marcus Henderson), who can only see what the Armitage family have supposedly done for them - and how very grateful they are for it.
But there is far more to
than that. The film would likely fall under the horror genre due to its themes and narrative. It's creepy. Constantly-on-edge level creepy. The feeling that something-could-go-wrong-at-any-moment creepy... And I'm sure this was the intention. Not just as a device to keep the audience hooked, but as an insight into something black people experience on a daily basis. Relating back to police brutality and wrongfully accused - depicted in
Straight Outta Compton
(2015), and presented in
The Central Park Five
(2016) - there's the fact that black people, specifically young black males, are advised to be wary at all times. Wary that they might be stopped by a cop at any point, and that
The inclusion of the tense interaction between the white cop, Rose and Chris early on in the film is especially clever. It's short and to the point, but feels overwhelmingly uneasy. When the cop asks to see Chris' licence, Rose jumps to his defence - exclaiming that she was driving when they hit the deer, and that the cop has no right to ask for such things. Uncomfortable, Chris attempts to diffuse the situation with repeated attempts to reassure Rose and provide a form of ID - as though he has been in this situation many times before. As things begin to get a little heated between Rose and the cop, a voice offering back up over his radio breaks their conversation, to which the cop declines and returns to his vehicle.
So when a cop car pulls up in front of Chris on the same stretch of road at the end of the film, the previously mentioned events caused my mind to jump to one thing. After watching an explosive couple of scenes in which Chris tactfully protects himself from the Armitages and brainwashed housekeepers, it seemed obvious that he was about to be arrested for their murders. I knew the cop wouldn't buy his story of self defence, simply because of the colour of his skin. I can't explain the wave of relief that fell over the audience when Rod was revealed as driver of the car, coming to Chris' rescue. Yet it says something when the first place your mind jumps to is the former conclusion.
The film turns numerous conventions of black characters, or narratives focusing on the lives of black people, on its head.
screams the idea that black people are no longer willing to play the roles white people created for them. Whether that be a Mammy, Uncle Tom or
presented in entertainment and broadcasted on the news. This idea is reiterated by Walter's turning on Rose after Chris awakes him from his hypnotised state. People of colour don't have to fit into cookie cutter, type-cast roles, but that they can be presented as real people - without white characters coming to the rescue, overshadowing them, or having their assistance applauded instead.
I can see
opening doors and paving the way for further own voice films from all different races and minorities. Telling the stories of, and from the perspective of, people who have actually experienced the themes and ideas the narrative explores, in real life. Using film as a place to voice their genuine feelings and concerns.
It would be fantastic to see this encourage other filmmakers to push boundaries, and turn more character and genre conventions on their head. Similarly outside of cinema, I also hope those who have seen the film read up on its messages, as well as other people's takes on it. Taking on board the notion that we can't be allies just by saying we are, and then enjoying the art and entertainment that has come from cultures foreign to our own. Instead, making an effort to get to know the origins of said art and entertainment, building an understanding of its history and what it means.
Though the premise of the film may initially feel ludicrous and exaggerated, there was no point when watching where I felt like it couldn't be real; which was the scariest part of it all.
says more about racism than any other movie I have seen. From the events unfolding on screen, to quietly questioning if no one came to Chris' Mum's aid after the hit and run, because she was black.
Racism is still very much alive and real. The overwhelming scale in which it saturates the film is alarming and suffocating. It's a warning; in order to make a change, we all need to stay woke, and know when to call problematic behaviour out, AND
. I haven't stopped thinking about the film since the screening I attended, and I would urge everyone to see it.
Articles I'd recommend for further reading:
by Keith Estiler
by Brentin Mock
On the way out of the busy screening I attended, I left behind an interracial couple. Referring to the events depicted in the film, one jokingly asked if their partner was scared of their parents now, to which they retorted that they weren't going to drop them home. It made me wonder just how many black people feel this fear,
and have dealt with unfriendly meetings with in-laws.
has been an eyeopening film in many ways.