Get Out [Review by Parsi]
Horror is normally SpecialK’s realm and she has an excellent review of Get Out that you should read. A combination of an overactive imagination and my father watching surgery programming on PBS, makes me a little reticent to watch all horror films. The trend toward torture porn and body horror seems to usher an unending war of one-upmanship that is both gruesome and repetitive. My favorite horror films tend to be political/social and funny.
Horror was once a genre akin to morality plays. Many horror films and books contain salient critiques of culture. Frankenstein tackles the moral dimensions of scientific development. The Mummy warns against desecrating ancient cultures, particularly their burial tombs. Alien movies highlight the fear of difference and how our perception of humanity and its differences is altered in the presence of aliens. Horror is a tool to teach a lesson or present an insight.
Horror comedy or Hor-Com lives in the intersection of two of our most vulnerable moments: laughter and fear. I love Hor-Com when it is intentional – see Cabin in the Woods. I love Hor-Com when it is accidental and awesomely bad – see Troll 2. I even love when it is not entirely clear and lives betwixt and between the two – see Bad Taste. Again, laughter and fear provide a moment of shared humanity.
Get Out hits both these notes as a genre bending, serious and still irreverent film. As SpecialK notes, the acting is terrific. Daniel Kaluuya is remarkable. He plays the role with such great subtlety. He evokes incredibly sincere moments with a light hand. His knowing glances and streaming tears express more than enough. Allison Williams is effortless, something I did not expect. Bradley Whitford, I dub thee King of Hor-Com. LilRel Howery is the perfect sidekick massaging the black movie trope and social commentary astutely.
The highest honors go to Jordan Peele writing and directing the film well outside the comedy that is his normal calling card. The film is littered with homages to all sorts of films without ever being ham-fisted. He approaches race and its consequences in a mature but engaging manner.
Get out is so excellent because it highlights all levels of racism and racialism. Perhaps its greatest feat is its ability to tackle what many perceive to be positive attributions of race. Physique, talent, sexuality, and other purportedly positive depictions of black bodies are reduced to their real meaning. These positive attributes of race serve to objectify and essentialize. The black body is valued, but the black person is not valued. Thus, it is possible to cheer for a black athlete and still be racialist because the body is prized but the person is not.
The film takes the body versus person divide to its logical conclusion. The real power in Peele’s storytelling and the performances lives in that message. It is a remarkable film precisely because the lesson is taught not with a hammer but with a scalpel. Get out is edutainment (with an emphasis on the entertainment) that educates without shoving it down your throat.
I almost forgot, there is a cameo by perhaps the most horrifying creature in existence The Bluebook and not in a law office to boot.
PARSI VERDICT: Watch. Learn. Rinse and repeat.