Found below are two reviews of Jordan Peele’s 2017 film, Get Out, written by Lewis University students Sarah Bettag and Anton Levitin.
Everyone has felt like an unwanted outsider at some point in their life. Get Out, directed and written by Jordan Peele, takes this feeling to a whole new level. This horror film seems to stray from the stereotypical horror genre with its distinct lack of creepy monster or dark, foreboding woods. Instead, the audience is treated to repeated close-up shots to give us an understanding of how Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), the main character, is feeling, while also highlighting that he’s a photographer. We are constantly at Chris’s eye level, which allows us to sympathize with his plight. However, Peele ditches the often clichéd use of extreme close-ups for an unshakable sensation of being constantly watched. The audience is treated to several jump scares at the beginning to create the sense of never quite being alone–underscoring the sense of surveillance throughout. Get Out also replaces the overt, thrilling hunting scenes of John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper with the perplexing impression that a noose is tightening around Chris’s neck. The non-diegetic music, which are screeching violins and unsettling silence, amps up the uncanny knowledge that Chris is in danger, but the lack of clear violence (in the beginning) denies the primitive feelings of prey. To add to the uneasiness, the diegetic sounds of silence and eerie cricket chirps take the audience at the edge of their seats as they wonder what happens next.
Even though Get Out may seem like just another psychological thriller, it has many characteristics that horror movie enthusiasts expect to see. Even though the audience seems to hold their breath for most of the movie, horror elements start to bleed into the movie during the later scenes when Chris is being taken for a final medical procedure. Sudden cuts from Jeremy Armitage (Caleb Landry Jones) to Chris jar the audience out of the sense of security they’d been lulled in. The high angle shot of Jeremy’s supposed corpse lets us know who is in control. Suddenly, things move quickly, taking on a more frenzied, traditional horror film feel. We are allowed to sit in suspense as Dean Armitage (Bradley Whitford) waits for his son’s return. Abruptly, Chris runs him through with the antlers of a deer trophy and watches him die. After several more frantic fights to the death, Chris finds himself on the road with the female killer. Just like Sally in Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Chris is rescued by someone from outside the ‘terrible place’ and rides away from his nightmare. Overall, the movie was a well-planned trip into the psyche of a hunted man.
Jordan Peele begins his career as a director by creating one of the best films of the year, tackling multiple societal issues while also giving his audience some laughs and scares. Get Out strays from the stereotypical horror film by lacking the villainous, scary monster coming from the scary building, woods, etc. Instead, it begins with an African-American male named Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) being the lead character, which is rare in Hollywood history when not in an all African-American cast, and the fright of meeting the family of his Caucasian girlfriend. It slowly begins to transition from a regular weekend vacation into surviving a family of killers and psychopaths. Peele intended the audience to relate to Chris and his fears in every situation with constant close-up shots allowing the audience to viscerally feel his uncomfortableness. It is not just his fears of the crazy family, but society’s awkwardness with interracial couples. Get Out channels Tobe Hooper’s psychotic killer family seen in Texas Chainsaw Massacre as well as George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead’s feeling of entrapment and being stuck in a home you can’t escape.
Peele takes us through a process where Chris begins to face his biggest fear, his mother’s death. Early in the film, Chris looks down on a dying deer after hitting it, recalling a similar situation in which his mother’s hit-and-run left him feeling powerless. Later in the film, that deer reappears (as a mounted trophy) as the roles are reversed and it watches Chris, from the wall, as he is about to die. After hitting the deer, the police were called and one officer asks for Chris’s ID even though he was not driving, which is Peele’s way of demonstrating how the law can often be prejudiced. What might be overlooked in that scene is how Rose (Allison Williams) stands up for Chris as if the focus is on the officer’s racism; when, in reality, it is Rose’s plot of removing the possibility of evidence for the couple’s excursion. If the incident had been filed and Chris would have gone missing, it would lead the police right to the Armitage’s. This is just one example of how so many scenes have a double meaning behind them in Get Out. Its constant nondiegetic sounds of screeching horror music and jump scares help keep the audience on edge, unsure of what exactly is going to happen next.
Sarah Bettag is a senior at Lewis University, majoring in biology. Next year, she will be going on to Rosalind Franklin University where she will be studying podiatry. She likes listening to 80s and 90s country music while doing homework. In her spare time, she enjoys watching MacGyver, Homicide Hunter or AMC and reading almost anything except for biographies. She has three sisters, a brother, and three dogs.
Anton Levitin is senior at Lewis University as well as part of the Lewis Men’s Tennis Team. He is graduating in May with a Bachelor of Arts in Sport Management and a Minor in Marketing. After college, he plans to pursue a career in sales and possibly move up the chain until a chance at management.