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In the height of the movie, the white father in Get Out named Dean (played by Bradley Whitford) poses the question to a now terrified Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) that is the existential question that has haunted humanity since consciousness ever began.
“What is your purpose?”
Said after finishing a well-written monologue comparing human life, divinity, and fire, Dean posed this question to Chris—the black victim of a white family that essentially lobotomized their daughter’s lovers and uses them as servants and vehicles for white people’s consciousness to live through. As I saw this scene play out, I began to ask the same question for the film: What is Get Out‘s purpose?
Jordan Peele, who is a well-known comedian and writer, was definitely ambitious in the themes of the movie he decided to introduce to the horror film genre. Horror was once a place where we could explore the complexities of fear, evil, impulse and violence. Now, more often, at least commercially in America, horror is a place of soulless slasher flicks. An intellectually sophisticated horror film happens few and far in-between, and one that is done well is even more seldom to come by.
Instead of a machete or a chainsaw, Peele uses white supremacy as both the deadly weapon and the haunted house. The scenes that are most captivating for me are the scenes where Chris goes into the “sunken place”. They’re artful, avant-garde interpretations of human consciousness and anxiety. The aesthetically gorgeous scene where he is initially hypnotized and you can see a visual representation of him falling into himself could be hung up in the Louvre in Paris, France. The scenes where they are carrying him and you are viewing it from his sunken perspective is an absolute brilliant use of cinema.
Throughout the movie, there are these moments of genius. These sprints of pure cinematic gold. Another portion of the film that I thoroughly enjoyed was the acting of the black people. The skill it would take to convey someone taken over by another person, but still somewhere deep inside having their true self there observing it all could have been entirely unbelievable and campy, but it was done masterfully and convincingly. This is another part of the brilliance of Get Out. When the film means to haunt you, it does haunt. When it means to be humorous, it is. And the actors tread that line excellently.
The film does have sprints of brilliance that I enjoy. However, a film is more of a marathon and when Get Out gets lazy around politics, dialogue, intellect and story, it goes from a potentially scathing critique to a harmless mockery.