This article contains spoilers. If you haven’t watched Get Out and intend to, you may want to return here at a later point in time. It’s right here, ready to watch, if you want to give it a shot now. If you don’t intend to watch it, please keep reading and let me convince you that it’ll be worth your while. Consider yourself warned…
One of my favorite moments in Get Out occurs not fifteen minutes into the slim hour and forty-four minute film. Up until this point (besides the opening sequence on a shadowy suburban street) everything’s been par for the course. Chris, the main character, and his girlfriend Rose seem like a pretty typical couple-from-the-city. There’s tension, because she hasn’t told her parents that he’s black — but as she points out in an earlier scene, what is she going to say? “Hey, Mom and Dad, my black boyfriend is coming down this weekend…”
They’re in the car. She’s urging him not to smoke. He calls his erstwhile friend, Rod Williams, and Rose play-accuses him of jealousy after the call ends. It’s then that the shape comes flying across the roadway, out nowhere.
The first time I saw the movie, in theaters, I wasn’t sure if it was a deer or a person. (It’s a deer.)
Actually, I almost bailed on seeing Get Out the first time. It was during a blizzard of all things, in the latter half of my senior year of high school. There’s a theater right on the border of Somerville and Medford in Assembly Row, the then-newly built-up complex of restaurants, condos, shops, storefronts of shining glass. Back in 2017, the AMC theater was one of the only fixtures that had already opened its doors — although not the front ones. The only accessible entrance back then was through two surreal sets of double doors, separated by a short concrete hallway, that snaked from the parking garage over to the second floor of the theater. While we were searching for the entrance, my then-boyfriend and I bumped into some acquaintances, two kids in my high school class. We all found the entrance together.
They were also seeing Get Out. We didn’t know them quite well enough to want to sit with them, but I believe it was the four of us and one other person, a singular man, in the darkened theater alone.
It was that boyfriend who’d convinced me to see Get Out, and I was mostly coming along because he wanted to see it so badly. Sure, I’d watched Key & Peele and I knew that Get Out was directed by Jordan Peele of that duo — but all that made me suspect was that the movie would be some kind of drawn-out version of a Key & Peele skit, and I didn’t feel too good about the prospect. After all, skits are skits for a reason. But, actually — news flash — Get Out is a lot more than an extended skit of any kind. The iconic, barrier-breaking humor of Key & Peele shines through, at least I like to think, but Get Out is equally a comedic horror film as it is a film about issues. Real, modern day issues. By the end of the film (which is refreshingly short, as I’ve already mentioned), I was really glad I’d watched it. In fact, it was the best new film I’d seen in five years.
Three years later, it’s the best new film I’ve seen in eight (probably in 10, if I’ve done the math right). Rogue One, the singularly impressive new Star Wars flick, comes in at a close second; A Quiet Place was pretty chilling; I haven’t watched Parasite yet but I’m going to, ditto for Moonlight, La La Land, Lady Bird, and a whole host of others reputed to be good.
My taste in movies is somewhat eclectic. If it’s neo-noir or featuring Russell Crowe, I’m all in. If it’s speculative, you’ve got me. If it’s a bad remake or a series that’s dragged on too long… not so much. Sometimes I enjoy war movies, sometimes they make my eyes glaze over. I want to say that a lot of my favorite movies (Big Night, L.A. Confidential, The Dressmaker, Cinderella Man, O Brother Where Art Thou, etc., etc.) have great stories at their heart, but also address big themes and present empowering-ish messages, though some of them have sad or depressing endings. I’m also a fan of movies that get places and feelings right but are really, in the end, just for entertainment. Like Top Gun and Dirty Dancing, although I’d argue that the latter does actually address bigger themes than you’d think. I also like sci-fi — The Terminator, Alien, Blade Runner… And I’ll watch movies set in the classical world all day: Gladiator, Spartacus, Agora… Just not Alexander, a movie which I have painfully mixed feelings about.
Back to the subject. Last night, I rewatched Get Out, and this time I was the one dragging my (current) boyfriend along for the ride. (In case anyone’s wondering, I’ve only had two boyfriends — the one who made me watch Get Out the first time and the one who I made watch Get Out last night). It was a big success — he liked it a lot and I liked it even more.
I noticed, on second watching, how nearly every piece of dialogue presents a juicy double entendre, something I could never have noticed the first time around. I remembered how much I loved the stark visuals, the montage of the trees, the use of Psycho-esque music that comes out of nowhere, the recurring chant that ties the movie all together. The dichotomy of black and white, picture-perfect and lurking horror, the utter weirdness of it all! This, folks, is truly one of the movies of the decade. The best thing is that while you take in all these loaded messages about race relations, you can have a good laugh, too — and sit on the edge of your seat from time to time, biting your nails. It is horror to its core, while maintaining a comedic edge the entire way through.
I’ll freely admit that not everyone seems to share my love of Get Out. While it is certainly remembered as an iconic movie of the 2010s, it’s practically scoffed at in some circles, including in the comments section of this New York Times review. I have to say, some of these comments pain me, or make me wonder if the person in question went to the theaters not expecting a horror film. Sorry. Not all films with serious themes are dead serious. Some of them get a little gory towards the end. But even with the blood and gore in the last fifteen minutes of Get Out (which I would argue has a strong connection to its ultimate meaning), it doesn’t qualify as a slasher film. No, it’s not even close. Sorry, commenter, but you might not have watched enough horror.
Get Out is a movie about something. But it doesn’t throw the something right at you. Maybe, in these days of canned messages that are often simply and pointedly stated without any veiled subtlety or metaphor, people expect to be spoon-fed the meaning of everything. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll be disappointed by Get Out, in which most every message is cloaked in metaphor. Some only appear on second viewing. Some are probably so subtle they’re fated to remain in the mind of the film’s creator. But so it is with all good art.