Disclaimer: neither of us are black, though one of us is white-passing biracial (Chinese/white), so whatever we have to say about the film will be filtered through a non-black lens, and should not be taken with the same gravity as what black reviewers and audiences have said.
So, I (drift partner) am biracial, much like director/writer Jordan Peele, though since I’m extremely light-skinned and white-passing my experiences with racism and whiteness have been completely difference than Peele’s. While people frequently erase Peele’s experiences having grown up with a white mother, I have had people say to my face that I can’t be Chinese. I’ve had people express disbelief that my Chinese father is related to me, my identity has been used as an excuse to tell racist jokes, and been tasked to explain why the slur “Ch*naman” is racist. I look white, but I’m not. And I’m sure I haven’t experienced half of the racism and microaggressions that Peele has as a black man in the US.
Get Out is a horror/comedy, but most of the comedy is probably going to be lost on white audiences, because the jokes are Peele’s nods to the experiences he and other black people face when (sometimes) well-meaning white people try to engage with them. “You know, I would’ve voted for Obama for a third term.” “I know Tiger Woods. Let’s see your golf stance!” “If you worked out, you’d be a beast!” I lost count of the microaggressions in this film, the little things the white characters said or did that communicated to Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) that they definitely saw him as Other. The audience in our screening didn’t seem to be laughing that much, but I was, because I recognized most of these jokes. They’re not really for the white audience members at all – they’re for the black viewers, who have probably had similar experiences and will laugh and nod knowingly and whisper “white people.”
That being said, this movie also doesn’t pull its punches – it’s got a lot of tension that builds from the very first scene, and really knows how to use simple things like a plush lion or a spoon rubbing on the inside of a teacup to unsettle you. I was spoiled for most of the movie going in, but even I didn’t quite guess the final twist, and it’s over-the-top and horrifying in the best way. From the beginning you know something weird is going on, but you’re not sure how deep it goes, and you’ll want to keep watching to find out. I’m sort of a wuss when it comes to horror movies, but I like them like this: creepy and unsettling with lots of moments that give you chills, but not unnecessarily gory, and with explanations for why everything is happening. Every actor is giving perfect performances that are unsettling without tipping over into parody levels – Bradley Whitford has never been scarier to me, and Allison Williams finally seems to have found a job that lets her truly (unnervingly) shine. Daniel Kaluuya is also brilliant and likable and I was rooting for him every step of the way; he’s supposed to be in Black Panther, which thrills me. It’s a real pity that horror movies tend to get passed over by the major awards, because if any genre film ever had performances that merited consideration, it’s this one.
As of today, Get Out has passed The Blair Witch Project as the highest-grossing original screenplay in history. I can’t think of a film that’s more deserving, and I’m so glad it’s managed to get the audience it has. Please do yourself a favor and watch it (just be aware, if you’re white, that it’s laughing at you, not with you).
–your fangirl heroines.