As recently as January of this year, I was made aware of the fact that our brains contain 90 to 95 percent water. Deep within the confines of the ebbs and flows permeating our mind’s eye lies an ecosystem of thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and norms. We often associate these four traits, on average, as essential to the development of a human being.
Of course, humans are not without their flaws, and so our perception of people cannot be a simple black and white canvas whose portrait or landscape orientation paints an idealistic picture that, as the saying goes, speaks a thousand words. In reality, numerous painters will be needed to complete the convoluted series of photos that reflect the roller coaster known as life’s trials and tribulations.
Get Out, a film by Jordan Peele (Key and Peele), takes the concept of an inter-racial couple and develops this roller coaster in a tale showing the harsh realities of oppressive, subservient behaviour in upper middle-class America. Having seen many satirical horror-comedies since I began doing amateur critiquing of films two years ago (e.g. Scream, Scary Movie), nothing has come close to the near-perfect balance of scary-funny than this. Underneath this see-saw of emotions however is a fulcrum of excellent character development, stunning cinematography, and a plot twist I’m still thinking about five or so hours after watching the film.
Aside from the technical details, I really enjoyed how the antagonists were a psychologist (hypnotherapist)-neurosurgeon tandem. Not since Shutter Island have I seen a lead character fitting in the mould of what the film genre’s portraying; a psycho-analytical look at the world of brain specialists/doctors and how manipulative they can be to get what they desire in dangerous places. The messed up stuff this family does to an extraordinary intellectual, with the goal of rendering him to a fragment of what he once was (an ordinary every-man in their pseudo-cult) is disturbing and gruesome, yet highlights the subtle oppression and racial undertones the film pushes forward to its audience.
In terms of performances, my standout would have to go to Catherine Keener, or hypnotherapist/psychologist Missy Armitage. You might also know her as Trish Piedmont, the woman Steve Carell’s gets to “know” in The 40 Year-Old Virgin. Oddly enough, I found her performance to be in the same vain as Kathy Bates’ role (super-fan Annie Wilkes) in Rob Reiner’s 1990 Stephen King adaptation of Misery. Both are manipulative and hell-bent on their sinister plans to come to fruition (Annie forcing James Caan’s Paul Sheldon to write her stories and Missy deploying similar tactics to be a part of her cult). Also, the fact that I watched Logan a day ago enabled me to appreciate the power of mind control and the influence it has on others.
So in conclusion, is this a movie that needs to be watched at some point in time? Absolutely. Is it a movie whose thematic content stands against the test of time? Absolutely. Is this going to be the start of a newfound appreciation for psychological thrillers? Perhaps. But one thing is for certain: Get Out is an experience that manages to successfully escape the grip of horror tropes like jump scares, and replaces it with thought-provoking socio-political commentary that challenges the viewer to think about what they have just watched. Just don’t think too deep, or else you might be trapped in an eternal never-ending void, forever.