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‘Get Out’ an Unnerving Twist on Racism

Dir. Jordan Peele (Blumhouse Production)—4.5 stars

“Get Out” starts with a classic problem—meeting the parents. But in this rendition, the largest problem for a happy, interracial couple quickly shifts away from not being able to start a conversation with the father to something much more tense. The boyfriend, an African-American man named Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), grows concerned that he may be walking into hostile territory as his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), takes him to a whitewashed environment set at an estate in the woods. As soon as the couple reaches the home, it gets increasingly clear that there is something off.

The movie is full of overpowering twinge of racism, one example blatantly observed as Rose’s father points out the fact that they are an affluent white family with an African-American maid and groundskeeper. This is followed by more metaphorical suggestions throughout the movie, often drawing on the power of visual language, as images of racism become an underlying theme in the movie—Chris himself is a photographer, stressing the importance of imagery even further. The angles and compositions match the undertone of their scenes. For example, when the couple first drive up to the home, all seems to be going well, and the audience gets a simple view of the property; however, when Chris is overwhelmed by an impromptu hypnosis session with Rose’s psychiatrist mother, a nightmarish vibe consumes the screen.

The artistic camerawork blends into the music and mannerisms of the characters, who try to reassure that everything is in order while simultaneously betraying, through tilted smile and wide-open eyes, a feeling that can only be described as creepy. Everyone unsettlingly slips into their role like a piece to a grandfather clock. The only ones that seem to be concerned are Chris and Rose. Scenes that seem normal to the white characters (except Rose) are uncomfortable and especially disturbing to Chris. For example, when a party of the parents’ friends is held, a woman blatantly grabs Chris’ arm and stares in awe at his physique in a degrading way.

Only one other character fully catches on to the peculiarity, but doesn’t come in contact with the couple for most of the movie. Rob, a friend of Chris’, gets to hear about snippets of odd events, but from miles away through the security of a cell phone. He still manages to have quite the presence, providing lines of humor to break the unnerving images of the movie. These comments add more of a rhythm to the movie as fear is shattered by a witty joke and then gradually resurfaces. His conversations with Chris are also comforting in a way, suggesting that Chris is fully aware of the weird clockwork characters and their actions around him.

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“Get Out” is certainly a refreshing twist on movies that address racism. The panel of white actors and actresses separate themselves from Chris, but not in the stereotypical way. He is not looked down upon, but rather is insulted by being observed and admired as some sort of trophy. Even the other African-American characters at the estate—the maid and the groundskeeper—detach themselves from Chris. The only person that manages to treat him like a normal person is Rose. What about him causes such an eerie effect of delight on the people of the estate? Is it solely his race, or is there more to it? The answer is one that might send a wave of chills down the audience’s spine.

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