What Jordan Peele has created with his debut film is a product of genius; it’s a film that feels like a career-defining piece, yet has all the blindingly fresh quality of a first time effort. It is not just a genuinely creepy horror laced with social commentary; it is an impeccably balanced horror-comedy that moulds the sharpest and most comprehensive social commentary onto one of the most gripping, compelling filmmaking feats this decade. It is an absolute monster of a film.
Jordan Peele deserves every bit of hyperbole I’m lumping on him.
We’re forced to look at a mirror of our own society that somehow, someway, has not found racial equality. It’s a truth that is – among every other adjective – scary. The horror genre, remarkably, is a superb fit for a film that has profound and important messages to convey. It wears its mainstream horror tropes on its sleeve – from the dead-of-night walkabout to the jump-scare – because their effective use reminds us why these methods ever became so popular.
‘It’s very weird’ – a reaction I’ve heard from many. Yeah you’re fucking right it is. Peele wants us to squirm, he wants us to be unsettled physically and mentally. From the uneasy score to the disturbing behaviour of the African-American ‘servants’, Get Out makes us want to do what its very title demands. Why would anyone want to stay in this creepy, unnerving reality? Well, exactly. It’s a film that feels explicitly post-Obama – ‘I would’ve voted for Obama for a third-term’, the father brags. It utterly exposes liberal racism, and reminds us how deep the veins of America’s racist past run in its culture.
‘The Sunken Place’ is the greatest marriage of filmmaking, genre, and social commentary in the entire 104 minutes. Kaluuya’s ‘Chris’ is forced into a creepy, disturbing abyss where he is rendered entirely redundant; this, by no accident at all, is a perfect metaphor for the history of African-Americans in this industry.Daniel Kaluuya is – and it took me a few viewings to really realise this – magnificent. The perfect subtlety in his polite, compliant attitude to the shameless obliviousness of these self-congratulatory liberals is integral to the film’s whole message. It is whiplash against those who underplay the continued plight of African-Americans; those who are in denial of the continued mistreatment of innocent citizens. Outspoken racism may be somewhat kept to the margins of society, but its historical dominance has left an ugly stain.
Peele wants us to squirm, he wants us to be unsettled PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY
Hollywood has historically marginalised African-American talents. Peele – in 2018 – was the first African-American to ever win a Best Screenplay Oscar. Only 35 African-Americans have ever won Oscars since the ceremony’s conception in 1928; 24 trophies are awarded at each ceremony. Say what you want about the Oscars, but their influence and cultural significance is undeniable, and they should therefore be making the right statements. Black characters have often been reduced to passive roles: the generally popular Mississippi Burning (1988) paints a disappointingly passive image of African-American lives, while the white FBI agents come in to solve this crime of murdered African-American teens. It fits into the typical white-hero narrative, while shafting a genuinely illuminating racial-crime-drama for a troubling buddy-cop flick. Certainly, African-American representation in film has improved, but Get Out’s piercing study of white hegemony is still alarmingly relevant.
The white characters are, of course, caricature. The plot is somewhat absurd. These are amplified villains, and we are not these exact monsters. But again this is Peele’s unrelenting genius. It takes a surreal, eye-opening allegorical tale as this to grab the attention of the very white audience its aimed at: the unoppressed among us who are maybe taking their privilege for granted.
It’s a film that feels explicitly post-Obama
It’s taken me a while to fully get to this point, but Get Out is 2017’s Best Picture. On the night I really thought the Academy was going to do it – Moonlight’s win in the year prior was monumental. Maybe they’re not ready to accept their own flaws. Jordan Peele has created a masterpiece that’s as funny, horrifying, and alarming as it deserves to be. But hey, what do I know; aren’t I just another white liberal?