Favorite Movies of the 2010s: #3
3. Get Out (2017)
Maybe its a reflection of the political and social climate of the last 10 years. Maybe its a growing dread of my own mortaility. Perhaps its changing tastes. I can't put my finger on the exact reason that I've been more attracted to and gained a greater affection for horror movies this decade. IT, It Follows, The Babadook, The Cabin in the Woods, The Witch, A Quiet Place, Train to Busan, Green Room, The Invitation, Let Me In, Bone Tomahawk, The Conjuring, Us. They all impacted me in a way they likely wouldn't have in the first decade of the century. I missed a few others that are highly regarded, but I would like to see. And, I've sought out the classic horror of the past again and reconnected with it. Carrie, Psycho, Halloween, and the slasher films of the '80s I used to dismiss. I've even reached a point where I've toyed with writing a horror story. My journal notes can attest to this.
So it is that Jordan Peele's Get Out is my third favorite film of the decade. Horror (all art, really) is subjective and I've read and heard commentary that Get Out isn't all that. It's fine, they say. It's good, but not great. That kind of stuff. Get Out frightened, challenged, disturbed, and entertained me. I jumped. I cringed. I worried for the protagonist. And I lauged. A lot. This is an audacious movie, willing to tell its story on its own terms. It's a risky one and I wish we would get more like it.
What works for me most is the dread. This isn't unusual for horror, of course, but Peele's movie is also a statement on racism. The main character, Chris (played by Daniel Kaluuya), is headed to meet the parents of his white girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams). They arrive in one of those perfect neighborhoods. We know something is off because that's how movies work. The fun is in watching Chris know something is off. This is a racial riff on The Stepford Wives. It's too perfect. Too beautiful. Rose's parents, Dean and Missy, (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) are almost too nice and trying too hard to be woke. "I would've voted for Obama for a third term," Dean tells Chris.
Then, there is the groundskeeper Walter (Marcus Henderson) and housekeeper Georgina (Betty Gabriel) who almost behave like they are hollow inside. Are they robots? Something is off, but Chris tries to justify the behavior. Is he just overreacting to the situation because he feels out of place? He is a young black man dating the daughter of an affluent white couple and he is meeting their equally affluent white friends. There are still plenty of people in this country uncomfortable with the sight of black man dating a white woman.
The movie's final act is bonkers and Peele cuts loose after a slow burn. If you've still not seen Get Out, don't let anyone spoil it for you. Events spiral out of control and all of the clues Jordan Peele planted come into play. I was on the edge of my seat.
Get Out is bold and unflinching in the way it wants to challenge our own views of race and how it is always there under the surface. We're afraid to talk about it. Something isn't right and we should address it, but, maybe everything isn't all that bad. After all, someone who says they would've voted for Obama a third time can't be all bad, right?