Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a fan of Jordan Peele, one of the most exciting horror directors working today, you must agree that few of us were truly ready for the release of Get Out. The directorial debut from a writer and performer known primarily for the sketch comedy hit Key & Peele was well anticipated by genre fans and others, but the actual response to the film was beyond what many ever imagined.
Get Out was immediately celebrated (and criticized in some circles) for its searing depiction of being Black in a country as insidious and dangerous as America chooses to be to certain pockets of its citizens. Audiences responded to this film’s incredible blend of satire and genuine, almost tangible horror. For these reasons and others, the film was also a very impressive box office winner.
The popularity and at-times divisive commentary surrounding the film were easy to comprehend in the immediate aftermath of its release. The movie was well-made on every front, with extraordinary detail paid to creating one of the tensest horror comedies in memory. It’s as scary as it is physically funny, but the humor never strays far from either making a sincere, vital point, or for building the relationships between the characters as the film goes on. Daniel Kaluuya as Chris and Lil Rel Howery as best friend Rod have a relationship that reveals trust, affection, and humor over just a handful of short scenes.
The relationships between these people drive some of the movie’s best surprises and unexpected developments. Chris’ initial interactions with his white girlfriend’s wealthy family (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener are stellar) are also funny at times. Yet, in these early scenes, the true horror movie machine begins to work and Jordan Peele truly finds the uniqueness of helming an astonishingly assured directorial debut. Get Out doesn’t let up once it really gets going, and the last half of the movie is a waking nightmare that moves with the frantic pace of some action movies. This horror movie tries for a lot and doesn’t fail.
It would seem as though the issues discussed by the film continue to dominate our discussion and attention. Get Out also poses some uncomfortable questions and declarations beneath its skin of inventiveness, wrapped in the enthusiasm of a filmmaker who loves all things horror. These questions continue to be asked and continue to exist at the heart of ongoing racial conflict and bleaker horrors. Real life seems to be roughly as scary for many as it was when Get Out exploded into theaters and conversation half a decade prior.
However, you could argue that it’s not Get Out’s job to change the world, or even move the hearts of some who fail to see any of the concerns posed by this movie. The film is a piece of entertainment that doesn’t sacrifice its rage on hot button topics to keep being a piece of entertainment. It’s a reflection and commentary, in addition to being a terrifying story of hypnosis, paranoia, and hellish family secrets. None of these qualities are likely to be diminished anytime soon, which is good for one of the most popular modern horror movies we’ve got, and unfortunate for the topics it covers.
Not surprisingly, Jordan Peele is still writing, directing, and producing some of the most exciting horror projects on the landscape. Both Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield have been turning in one excellent performance after another, since arguably becoming bigger stars in the wake of Get Out’s success. The movie also has benefitted the horror genre itself as those involved with it. Politics in horror have always been present. Always. The release of Get Out perhaps represents the moment in which that understanding among audiences became more pronounced.
More than any of that, the reception to Get Out when it was released and now is yet another reminder of the value and necessity of more diverse voices telling these stories. This is true of not only horror, but of all of cinema itself.
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