31 Days of Horror, Day 1
I saw it coming, and Aaron McGruder, creator of The Boondocks, is to blame. When Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and Rose (Allison Williams) go to visit her parents, and all the black servants say the whole word – as in, every syllable is caressed like a gentle lover – Riley Freeman’s words echoed in my head.
Ultimately, however, the big twist in Get Out isn’t as important as what that twist means. Yeah, there’s an obvious allegory to slavery here (white people using black people’s bodies without their consent). But it goes deeper than that. This isn’t Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Rose’s parents don’t look or act like the kind of people whose ancestors owned plantations. There is no alt-right boogeyman here.
I think director Jordan Peele is skewering a very specific kind of liberal. They listen to Macklemore and think it’s cool when Ellen dabs. They love watching black athletes on the football field, up until those athletes kneel during the national anthem. They say they can’t be racist because they have a black friend. Basically, they view black people as commodities – best viewed from afar. But when black people, and black issues, get in white faces, that’s when jerseys get burned.
If it seems like I’m digressing too much into the politics of a horror movie, it’s for good reason. Strip away the social/racial subtext, and you’re left with a run-of-the-mill movie about seemingly normal people hiding sinister intentions. It’s the performances that elevate the movie above that trope. Kaluuya’s wide-eyed terror is wholly convincing, and Williams does a decent job switching from “nicer version of Marnie from Girls” to “basically Marnie from Girls.”
For me, however, the stand out performance is Betty Gabriel as Georgina. She conveys the whole black-woman-held-hostage-in-her-own-body thing with something as simple as a pained smile. And Lil Rel Howery provides welcome comic relief in between all the horror, stealing every scene he is in.
Am I late to the party on this one? Sure. But in previous years Kathleen and I watched all the good horror movies as they came out. By the time October rolled around, we were stuck watching 31 mediocre, straight-to-Netflix trainwrecks. With Get Out, we’re off to a much better start this year.