Saturday, March 4, 2017

Get Out (2017)

So after the rousing success of Get Out, including a 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, director and comedian Jordan Peele is set to direct a handful of other horror movies about 'social demons' over the next 10 years.

I think that's fucking great news.

We need more horror movies about stuff like this – about the current issues of the day, about social ills. 

In Get Out, Peele talks about race relations and prejudice and turns those things into a bizarro-funhouse horror/comedy flick. The film, about a black guy named Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) who goes home for the holidays to his white girlfriend Rose's (Allison Williams) parents' huge mansion and begins to notice things askew, is a breath of fresh air for the nuance and intelligence with which it talks about its subject matter.

SPOILERS henceforth... is henceforth even the right word? I don't know.

The basic concept is that he starts to notice that the family's black servants, and the other few black people he meets in the area, are all acting really strange, like robots or aliens – to the point where things start to get disconcerting. At first, you think it's a pretty obvious and heavy handed thing – oh, it's about slavery, they hate black people, et cetera. And I thought so too. But as it went on, you see it's different than that. These old people are actually using the black peoples' bodies as a kind of body-swap thing, brainwashing them and then putting other peoples' dying brains inside them and becoming them. But still, also, leaving a part of the original person inside, too. Pretty cruel stuff.

I love the humor in this too. Like Rose's dad has a line about thinking Barack Obama is the greatest president of his lifetime. So how could HE ever be racist, right? I love it. Pretty soon, all the conversations turn into stuff like that. It's crazy to me – but hell, to a lot of people, this kind of stuff is likely routine and depressing in how often it happens. We don't know how to talk to one another well enough.

And I like that this is a film about race, made by and starring black men, that isn't just a period piece retelling the horrors of slavery or something like that. I think some more modernized takes are welcome now – there's more to talk about then that. Between this and Moonlight, I'm enjoying the takes on subsets of American culture we haven't seen enough raw, real takes on in mainstream movies. That's a good thing, to see more diversity and culture than just that of the standard middle class white guy protagonist we've seen over and over for decades. It's a step forward.

It's the mutation of racism into the modern day coded words, the 'oh, we don't hate black people, we enjoy conversations with those rare specimens under microscopes and in controlled environments.' It's all the bullshit racism still prevalent in our society that dumb people pretend doesn't exist anymore because slavery was outlawed and Civil Rights happened in the 60s, and that's all there was to worry about, right? God bless the U.S. education system whitewashing everything else that happened.

And we should have more movies like this – so, good that Peele is making more. We live in some weird, crazy times right now, very polarized politically, and social issues are increasingly in the spotlight as we continue to fight over them in the USA. Movies can be mirrors of these social issues. They can have a meaning behind them. Horror, too, maybe more than some other genres, can be used in an allegorical manner – fears run wide and far of so many different things in our society and that's why we created monsters like the Wolfman and Frankenstein to talk about them. Modern horror can do that, too. Movies like Get Out are an important step in that direction, again – I'm glad this was so visible and so well-reviewed.

“The best and scariest monsters in the world are human beings and what we are capable of especially when we get together. I've been working on these premises about these different social demons, these innately human monsters that are woven into the fabric of how we think and how we interact, and each one of my movies is going to be about a different one of these social demons.”
--Jordan Peele, in the article I linked earlier.

Spot fucking on, man.

For that matter, it's just an entertaining film. It's a horror comedy that exists as a tense, creepy thriller, but also injects a fair amount of humor into the whole thing. This is a funny movie, both in awkward, subtle ways as Chris navigates his girlfriend's family's weird, creepy neighborhood and in overt ways with the character Rod (LilRel Howery), a TSA agent friend of Chris's who helps get to the bottom of what's going on. It's just good to have a horror film that's also funny WITHOUT parodying the genre's tropes – we've seen enough of that shit. This is just funny while also being scary. It is possible.

So this is a great, smart horror movie that manages to be creepy, funny and socially aware all at the same time. Go see this. I can't wait to see more of Peele's films.

Image copyright of its original owner, I don't own it.