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Horror: Get Out: Social Commentary In Horror Cinema


When most of us go to see a horror film, the last thing we expect amidst the blood and guts, Hannibal Lecters and Chuckie dolls is a social commentary that strikes a cord in real modern world issues. Yet, Jordan Peele's Get Out offers exactly that, showing an artistic genius that is absent from most horror that comes across the silver screen. Peele's film is about an African American man, Chris played by Daniel Kaluuya, who goes with his white girl friend to meet her parents. Once there, Chris realizes that the white suburbanite family has all black servants who do all their white master's bidding. When family friends come down to visit the following day, Chris realizes that it is not just his girlfriend's family that exhibits the same socially awkward and demeaning tendencies toward him. As one might have guessed from the trailers to the film, Chris finds himself in a hypnotic slavery ring with a dark twist that he must escape from. The question is whether he can escape a world dominated by the powers that be who control every facet of the world in which he finds himself.

With one of the most satisfying twists and endings one will see in a horror film made after 1979, Get Out speaks to issues that we see on our computer and television screens every day. Regardless on where one falls with opinions over the Black Lives Matter movement, the film is more than heavily influenced on the values and messages BLM supporters espouse. One of the scenes that epitomizes current events is when a police officer singles Chris out during a traffic accident, even though his white girlfriend was the driver. Outside of these more blatant images are scenes like the one wherein the girlfriend's father attempts to deflect from his own racism by stating that he would have “voted for a Obama a third time.” Even amongst the horror elements of the film, the echoes of BLM and the Baltimore/Ferguson riots are clear and hard to miss, though are not out of place or obnoxiously inserted as many a social justice warrior club has been in the mainstream media.

At the expense of a possible spoiler, one of the other themes addressed toward the end of the film is cultural appropriation and the stealing of identity. Without giving too much away, Chris discovers that the plot of this version of white suburbia is much more than just hypnotic oppression. Here he learns that what his adversaries intend to do is to steal his very identity. It has been noted by several commentators of the past that Jazz and Hip Hop (to name but two) began as African American artistic creations, but were then dominated and taken over by white musicians. Again, regardless of one's personal beliefs on the subject, Get Out ingeniously addresses this too without filling the air with a preachy or abrasive vibe. And that is really the true artistry behind this film: it takes the racial concerns of the modern day and presents them in a format that even detractors can appreciate and take in. Horror is typically a scoffed at medium; however, should horror film directors take cues from Peele's Get Out, we may have a renaissance of the macabre on our hands. It is a lesson that can not be learned soon enough.

- BK

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