As soon as I saw the trailer for Get Out in October, I knew that this would be a movie I needed to see. However, at that time I honestly did not anticipate Get Out to be legitimate horror film, even though it was being marketed in that genre. I thought the first trailer was a cleverly edited comedy film to mimic a horror film satirically (similar to the SNL skit “The Day Beyoncé Turned Black”). It only made sense to me to believe it to be a comedy since it was directed by Jordan Peele, who was a comedian best known for works such as Key & Peele or Keanu. Besides, could there ever really be a horror film that would talk about race when the running joke of black people in horror films is how we’re always the first to be killed?
After seeing this movie, I’m shaken to my core because I’ve never been so scared by a movie in my entire life.
What makes Get Out terrifying is that the outrageous circumstances Chris encounters during his time at Rose’s family reveal a base layer of brutal honesty and raw truth. I don’t think this movie could have been put together as well by someone who wasn’t an expert in comedy such as Peele. His experience in comedy gives him a unique qualification for what makes the horror in Get Out so terrifying. Good comedy is usually found to be relatable; it takes what you find in everyday life and shows you how ridiculous the mundane can be by adding outrageous circumstances. Horror essentially does the same thing, but shows you that the reality of these events are so outrageous they become terrifying. When you push comedy over the edge, it becomes horror—which is exactly what Jordan Peele achieves in Get Out. It’s so funny it’s scary.
Get Out is obviously made for the black audience. Other than the obvious relatability that black people have with Chris as he tries to navigate a white space on his own, unable to address the microaggressions being tossed at him, a black audience can also relate to the other black characters, who, due to the circumstances of their situation, are also unable to speak out about what is happening to them, or what could happen to Chris.
The timing of the actions and plots leave plenty of room for a black viewer to engage in the “black folks yelling at the movie screen” stereotype without inhibiting the experience of the film. In fact, it enhances it. When you yell, “Yo man, you need to get the f— out of there!” Chris goes, “I need to get out of here.” Almost as if it was a direct response to what black community members would tell him to do if all of the other black characters at the home Chris is visiting were in a position to do so. I typically love to see movies by myself, but this experience of black folks in the audience experiencing what I was experiencing in unison, and all of us being engaged and vocal into the experience, brought out a sense of community in the audience.
My initial viewing of Get Out left me physically and emotionally stunned. I was seeing it with my professor and a few of my classmates, and once the movie was over, one of my white classmates reached to touch my arm and I yelled at him to stay away from me. I walked home wondering if my white classmates saw everything I saw—if they understood why I was scared. If they would understand why I legitimately asked my professor if he could get me out of all my other classes next week. I felt like I needed a vacation from white folks after seeing that movie. It was too real, and likely even more relatable because of how Minnesota has been referred to as the “Jim Crow North.” I could have replaced almost any character in that movie with a person I knew directly and it would have been flawlessly the same story, and just as terrifying. True horror.
Get Out is almost a portrait of the white liberals who buy into the virtues of being “Minnesota Nice.” My father, who was a black man from Atlanta, said that you can never really call out a Minnesotan when they treat you badly, because after they treat you badly they’ll follow up with, “Have a nice day!” and leave you to look like the villain if you start calling them out on their behavior. Minnesotans, who claim to be progressive because of our access to health care, our gay rights, and our arts scene, need to see Get Out as a mirror in their face about how we can’t really hide the true racism that happens in our Minnesota culture. About how even though the state has gone blue every electoral year since Nixon, you could find a Confederate flag waving only two hours away from Minneapolis in St. Cloud.
This movie is not for the blatant racist; the one that literally compares us to monkeys and calls us niggers.
This movie is for the diet racist; the one who voted for Obama and who doesn’t correct their own mother when she calls you a “mulatto,” but will apologize on their mother’s behalf where white ears are too far away to be offended. It’s for the white friend who will devour The Hunger Games, but then tell black folks who don’t trust a grand jury pending a cop’s murder indictment to “wait for the system to work itself out.” It’s for those who would never call you a nigger to your face, but will check their pocket to make sure their wallet is still there when a black youth stands too close to them on a crowded light rail car.
Whenever a character in Get Out walked up to Chris and said, “I would have voted for Obama a third time if given the chance” or would expect him to be an expert on Tiger Woods and basketball, I cringed and laughed because that is the white liberal go-to to convince a black person that they can’t be racist . . . because they like black people. I thought about my friends past and present who I can almost guarantee use me as their “black friend” they bring up in conversation to prove that they can’t be racist.
I want to force all my white friends who are constantly trying to convince me that they’re not racist to watch this movie so they can understand why their hyper need to convince me that they’re “woke” makes me trust them less; makes me wonder if they can see a reflection of themselves in Rose, and her trusting, loving relationship with Chris; that as a black person I am always anticipating their betrayal.
Get Out is legitimately scary because it is brutal honesty and raw truth pushed to the edge. All white Minnesotan liberals need to see it, and maybe then they will better see themselves.