In the past decade, there has been a steadily increasingly supply of well-crafted, enjoyable horror films, yet these films still mostly rely on conventional horror-genre tropes, without offering anything substantially new or fresh. Of course, they’re nothing as abominable as the Bye-Bye Man or It Follows but horror-lovers still crave a little more creativity in the films they consume. Hence, I suppose you can imagine my delight following the release of Get Out and mother!.
These 2017 films, both stated as being influenced by Rosemary’s Baby, seem to flip horror clichés on its head, allowing the creators Jordan Peele and Darren Aronofsky to subvert traditional horror conventions. This artistic license enables these gifted directors to construct nuanced, equivocal films.
My initial reaction after watching mother! was sheer incredulity and shock. It was a roller-coaster ride of emotions in which I felt increasing outrage for what Jennifer Lawrence’s character had to endure, to outright confusion as to what ideas the film was premised on. Film critics from all over the web have extrapolated various themes from Aronofsky’s film; be it climate change, a study on human nature, an exploration of gender conventions to religion (with its biblical metaphors). The film has had its fair share of haters, it being argued to be over-complicated and convoluted. In all honesty, I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing. The film is whatever the audience wants it to be and its ability to expand a strange experience to nightmarish proportions, without relying on horror clichés such as generic supernatural activity or over-used jump scares, is something to be praised.
Get Out follows a young African-American male named Chris and his experience visiting his white girlfriend’s family for the first time. This critically-acclaimed film is a complex, social commentary on the myth of America being a post-racial society, following Obama’s presidential inauguration. The film puts a spotlight on the insidious nature of covert, liberal racism. For much of the film, it is a harrowing, tense ride in which you can’t fully shake the feeling that there is something disturbingly weird about the Armitage family. From the gardener intensely sprinting around the garden at strange hours of the night to the invasive questions asked by guests of the Armitage clan, this film had me conjuring wild theories about the Armitages until the big reveal – which was far worse than I could imagine. Each scene is rife with subtleties and ambiguity that spurred endless Reddit posts meticulously deconstructing each facet of the film. Get Out does away with the ‘helpless, white female victim’ trope and instead makes her take centre-stage as the main villain, in which an injured Chris is seen running away from in the final act of the film. It did surprise me that a film such as this was placed in the Golden Globe’s comedy category, but then that probably says more of the state of the USA than anything else.