I hadn’t seen Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” before I watched it a couple of nights ago, and part of me was concerned that my enjoyment would suffer for it. Even though I hadn’t actually sat down to watch the movie, I figured I might have absorbed enough of it through cultural osmosis to demystify and ease some of the tension.
I was wrong!
Of course, I knew the basic premise: A young Black man, Chris, visits his white girlfriend’s liberal family in the suburbs, where not all is as it seems and there’s a terrifying twist. (Me: “I think they’re like, energy vampires or something?”) And, of course, the above-pictured hypnosis scene is iconic.
But man oh man, the things I didn’t know. Here are a few of them (spoilers ahead):
- The actual twist, that the the girlfriend’s family belongs to some kind of cult that can literally rob people of their bodies and use them like human Gundams, is far more bizarre and terrifying than I could have anticipated. And as a metaphor for the objectification, dehumanization, and exploitation of Black people in America, it’s got a lot more subtlety and punch than just white people as evil ghouls or brainwashers or whatever.
- How once you learn what the twist is, so much of what you saw before becomes even more frightening — and often, I think, darkly funny — in hindsight. I didn’t get a chance to confirm this, but I am certain that “Get Out” is a film that rewards multiple viewings.
- How deftly Peele ramps up the tension over the course of the film. It owes a lot to “The Shining” in that way, I think. (Of which I assume, considering his excellent “Continental Breakfast” sketch, Peele is a fan.)
You get the idea. I knew the broad strokes, but with something as finely crafted as “Get Out” it’s the little details that make it.
As for the film’s much-discussed racial satire, look: I’m a liberal white guy. What the hell do you want me to say?