Pulp Consumption: Get Out

Get-Out-movie-song

By now I have to imagine anyone who loves horror movies has seen Get Out, so it’s probably preaching to the choir at this point, but if for some reason you’ve skipped over this film you are doing yourself a serious disservice. Seriously, stop reading now and just go watch the movie.

Are you still here? If so, I’m going to assume you’ve watched the film, so beware spoilers below.

Daniel Kaluuya as Chris Washington

Daniel Kaluuya as Chris Washington

It would be stupid not to discuss the popularity of Jordan Peele as a comedy writer and sketch actor, especially where it comes to his frequent collaborator Keegan Michael Key (if you watched the Super Bowl, you saw Key in at least two commercial breaks, and I’m sure you recognize him from character actor roles all over the place).  If you’ve ever watched any of the Key and Peele sketch show, you have no doubt noted the comedic duo’s keen sense of comedic timing. The concept of the right thing happening at the right time to upset or subvert expectations and deliver surprises is the very essence of both comedy and horror, so it should come as no surprise that a brilliant comic writer would also be a brilliant horror writer. This is not to say every comedian would be a good horror writer or vice versa, but there is a very definite overlap in skillsets. Just consider the jump scare that is actually a cat instead of the monster. If you need further proof, go back and rewatch nearly any slasher movie[1], but play a laugh track instead of screeching violins.

Rather than go into a synopsis of the film and then discuss the meaning, we’ll cut right to the chase: the movie is about systemic racism, even at the hands of self-proclaimed white liberal social justice advocates. They trick, control, and usurp black bodies while simultaneously loudly declaring their anti-racist bonafides. It’s limousine liberalism at its finest.

Allison Williams as Rose Armitage

Allison Williams as Rose Armitage

I wrote earlier about Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff, and the Lovecraftian theme is also present here, but instead of Elder Gods, magical texts, and non-Euclidean geometry there’s magic, hypnotism, cults who buy and sell people, brain-body transportation, and the creeping sense of dread brought about by the strange behavior of servant staff, all black men and women, and the insistence by the white family that they don’t have a racist bone in their bodies.

Peele, who wrote, directed, and produced the film, does a pretty good job of giving us details in the same way his characters learn them, although there is one sequence which contains entirely too much direct explanation/ authorial intrusion.

The end of the film, like Ruff’s novel, is the one major shortcoming I see. I understand why the studio pushed for a “happy” ending, with the main character escaping the clutches of a white body-stealing cult, much as I understand why Ruff chose to have his characters triumph over the ancient white cult of sorcery. Black characters don’t generally survive horror films[2]. In fact, it’s so standard a trope in horror movies that it’s frequently lampshaded, to the point of being explicitly called out in character.

The problems I see with both Lovecraft Country and Get Out isn’t the survivors who subvert a trope (indeed, I’m glad to see it), but that the conclusions wrap up too neatly. In the most iconic horror films, the final scenes are almost always ambiguous, with the heroes/survivors just barely scraping through. In fact, it could be viewed as a good thing: After all, Peele is turning the traditional horror tale on its ear a bit. Instead of dark-skinned primitive cults sacrificing white heroes to raise ancient horrors, it’s hyper-savvy technologically advanced cults of white aristocrats sacrificing black heroes to serve as literal body slaves. I just wish the getaway wasn’t quite so clean and tidy. Peele is smart enough that maybe the sequel can call attention to this fact and skirt around it. After all, not everyone in the cult is dead.

Minor faults aside, I definitely recommend this movie even if you have no interest in (or are blind to) the social justice angle of the film. It’s well-written, -acted, and -directed, and tells its story well. Although it is feature-length, the basic morality tale aspect of it should appeal to fans of shows like Tales from the Crypt and Masters of Horror, or, really, fans of horror in general.

As a fan of Jordan Peele’s, I’m very glad this film had the success it did and I look forward to seeing what he makes next. In addition to a possible sequel to Get Out, he’s attached to the Twilight Zone reboot for CBS All Access[3] and Lovecraft Country at HBO.


[1] Particularly Wes Craven films

[2] Although that definitely wasn’t always the case. In fact, in Night of the Living Dead, Ben (Duane Jones) is the only survivor of the night (though at the end he does die because he is mistaken for a zombie), and in Romero’s follow-up, Dawn of the Dead, Peter (Ken Foree) is one of only two characters to survive the long night in the shopping mall.

[3] Cranky old man shouting at clouds – I hate everything about All Access’ business model.

This entry was posted in Pulp Consumption and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Pulp Consumption: Get Out

  1. Reblogged this on Mangled Latin and commented:

    Have you seen Jordan Peele’s GET OUT? You should.

    Like

  2. Reblogged this on Dark Perceptions and commented:

    Cameron talks GET OUT and how it fits into what we think about pulp and pop culture.

    Like

  3. Looking forward to seeing this

    Like

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