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  • Writer's pictureValerie A. Higgs

BFI #100: Get Out (2017)

Updated: Jan 23, 2023


Get Out (2017)

Jordan Peele, Dir.


Synopsis:

A Black photographer agrees to a weekend visit with his White girlfriend’s parents at their home, much to his bestie’s dismay. Their visit coincides with an annual gathering that proves to change the course of all of their lives.


This is not the first time I’ve watched this movie. I clearly remember the first time I saw it, after much urging from a friend of mine. By the time I managed to get to the theater, she and her husband had seen it four times.


Released during the Trump administration, race was very much a front and center topic. Get Out was released during a turbulent time in American history.


It was also the debut of director Jordan Peele, actor and comedian, and life-long horror fan. He has since released two more iconic horror movies, and both unrelated in topic to Get Out. His sophomore effort, Us, was not as strong as Get Out, but it also dashed all thoughts that he would make social statements on race with future movies. So far, he is not predictable. By the time I saw Nope, I thankfully threw away any preconceived notions about the movie’s subject.


Get Out did not even have a logo for Mr. Peele’s company, Monkey Paw Productions. As an homage to Edgar Allen Poe, the production company’s logo is now a severed monkey paw stirring hot tea in a teacup with a silver spoon. We all now know why that would be, as the silver spoon and the teacup would become the most iconic visual in Get Out.


This movie has been analyzed and discussed to the point that I probably have nothing new to add here.

But I will still mention things that I missed the first five or six times watching this movie.


***SPOILERS***


The use of the color red is what stood out to me this viewing. The first time I really became aware of directors’ use of color was while watching Alfonso Cuarón’s 1998 movie version of Great Expectations. While watching the movie with the director’s commentary feature turned on, Mr. Cuarón mentioned his use of the color green (of course, signifying money). I started to notice it in other movies – notably, M. Night Shyamalan’s famous use of red in The Sixth Sense.


In Get Out, the villain wears red. It starts showing up during the garden party scene. The guests wear mostly neutral black and white (get it?) with something red, like a kerchief, lipstick, scarf, or eyeglasses.


The biggest villain, Rose (Allison Williams), the main character Chris’ (Daniel Kaluua) white girlfriend, does not wear red herself until the garden party. The first hint, however, is that she drives a big red SUV, literally surrounding Chris with her deception and driving him to his fate.


I read an interview where Allison Williams admitted that she played Rose “evil” from the first frame. She’s looking at pastries to bring to Chris’ house, and the viewer believes that she is smiling because the pastries look delicious. I now realize she is smiling because today is the BIG DAY. Another victim to the slaughter.


A scene where Rose’s deception is subtly revealed is when Chris’ friend, Rod (Lil Rel Howery), is on the phone and she “jokingly” says that her relationship with Chris was “all a ploy to get to” him. She sets that up for a later scene when Rod calls her while looking for Chris.


The only time Rose is truly authentic is during their drive to her parents’ (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) house. A deer crosses the road and crashes into her big red SUV. This is the only incident in the entire movie where Rose does not have any control. Once the police officer makes an appearance, she is back to business. Even toward the end of the movie, when Chris has been bagged, she is back in control in her weird little Froot Loop eating way.


It’s interesting to me how Mr. Peele uses the color red to clue the viewer in on who the villain is. The guests wear red, as mentioned earlier. The parents seem to be villainous because their acceptance of Chris seems completely genuine and inauthentic simultaneously, but Mr. Peele doesn’t give you the actual clue until the auction, when Rose’s dad where’s a red kerchief in his sports jacket.


What about Andre (LaKeith Stanfield), the other Black man at the garden party who is acting strangely? He’s not wearing red. His “wife” asked him to “do something with” her red napkin, and he stashes it into his inside pocket.


I did notice that when Chris’ phone camera flash accidentally went off, creating Andre’s mask to completely slip, his nose started bleeding. There may have been a medical reason why his nose started bleeding at that moment, but I would like to think that the red blood was an indication that the villain was inside Andre, and Mr. Peele was letting you in on that secret.


When things really start unraveling, Mr. Peele’s use of red becomes more blatant. He’s already clued us that Rose is disingenuous. Most of the wall hangings in her room had red splashes. By the time Chris finally lets his curiosity open the secret door in Rose’s bedroom, he finds a red box with photos of other victims. “First Black boyfriend”, she said. We learn this is not at all true, and when Chris’ eyes are finally fully open, Rose is discovered wearing red in the final pictures he sees.


The true villain is finally revealed, and we can argue that this is a nature vs. nurture situation (was Rose hypnotized by her mother or is she just actually a psycho due to her psycho parents?). I’m not going to get into all of that here, but it’s worth discussing.


I have a few quibbles with the movie – mainly regarding Chris and his treatment of his cellphone, and how the question “why Black people” was never answered to my satisfaction (I would argue that it would be more logical to kidnap other White people for the Coagula process).


All in all, I can understand why Get Out would be one of the British Film Institute’s greatest movies. An American movie and, incredibly, a first effort from a new director. I am looking forward to the rest of Jordan Peele’s directing career.



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