'#Get Out' has taken the big screen by storm these past few weeks both critically and commercially. It has managed to gain a rating of 99% on Rotten Tomatoes, which for a low budget #Horror Film is very uncommon. It managed to earn $33m during its opening weekend against its $4.5m budget and after being in US cinemas for almost a month now its managed to gross $133m domestically. Perhaps the reason for its success is its relevant subject matter and it may be paving the way for a new type of socio-political horror film.
What's the film about?
The film centres around Chris Washington (Daniel Kaaluya), who you may have seen from 'Black Mirror'. He’s off to meet his girlfriend Rose’s (Allison Williams) very middle class parents for the weekend. ‘Do they know I’m black?’ Chris asks. Rose then reassures him that his skin colour is irrelevant. The film has a strong effect as a horror film, not just because of a few jump scares, the first of which being on their journey to meet the parents. Rose is driving and they accidentally hit a deer as it sprints across the road. Shocked, Rose calls the police whilst Chris watches the deer with the audience and we are forced to listen to its dying moans. The police arrive and demand to see Chris’ driving license despite the fact he wasn’t driving. This is where the film begins to get more and more relevant to a 2017 United States and to some extent UK as well. Rose pushes against the officer and he eventually lets it go when she makes him see the absurd and discriminatory nature of the situation.
When the couple arrive at the house, we’re confronted with a contemporary plantation vibe. The two servants who work for the Armitage’s are black and Rose’s Dad, Dean (Bradley Whitford), tells Chris that he understands how strange it all may look but they were carers for Rose’s grandparents and after they passed they couldn’t bear to let them go. Rose’s mother, Missy (Catherine Keener), a psychiatrist with strong interests in hypnosis techniques notices Chris acting a little antsy and realises he’s attempting to stop smoking and she wants to help.The parents then remind Rose that the annual party their grandparents used to hold is this weekend. As Chris is being introduced to the middle aged white people they make several ‘laidback’ racist comments. The type of comments where the people saying them don’t realise that they’re being properly racist.
Why is the film relevant today?
The film features many stellar performances, notably from Kaaluya and Keener. Samuel L. Jackson recently criticised the casting of black British actors in roles about America’s #Race Relations and this was met with a huge backlash. He’s right in the sense that there needs to be more widespread black roles, specifically films that aren’t about slavery, however acting is about versatility and to suggest black Brits aren’t facing prejudice on any level is naïve. John Boyega, best known for his role as Finn in 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' (2015), tweeted ‘Black brits vs. African American. A stupid ass conflict we don't have time for'.
Taking race out of the equation, the film reminded me a lot of 'You're Next' (2011). The big fancy middle class house, the family deception, the strong lead character, be it a white woman or a black man. I’m usually not a fan of horror films as I’m not into being scared and generally the low budget horrors churned out by Hollywood aren’t critically very good. These two film however, have left a lasting impact on me. They don’t feature a weak lead who does stupid things like walking into a dark room with the lights still turned off. They carry a sense of realism which make them relevant in the modern day. 'Get Out' is an interesting exploration of casual racism in society today and films like this which splice together comedy and horror, are a new and important way of addressing worries and anxieties in 2017. Films like this get people talking, which can only be a good thing.