What is the secret ingredient in a horror movie that frightens rational, educated grown-ups and causes them to have nightmares? Whatever “it” is, countless so-called horror movies have failed spectacularly over the years, especially during the last two decades. But fortunately for horror fans, Jordan Peele, the director of the Academy Award-nominated movie “Get Out,” has supplied what many horror fans have wanted for a long time.
In modern times, there are virtually no taboos in the movies provided by the motion picture factory called Hollywood. Nearly everything is allowed. It might be controversial, it might be criticized, but everything is possible. And this is how it should be. It gives directors freedom in their creativity and expression: whether it is about weird sex scenes, as seen in “The Shape of Water” (a mature woman screws an alien-/ fish-like sea creature); and “Harold and Kumar” (Kumar´s threesome fantasy with his ex-girlfriend and his oversized bag of weed); or limitless, violent torture scenes, as seen in “James Bond – Casino Royal” (Double O Seven gets hit with a rope in a sensitive area so hard, that he almost loses his “double O´s”); or literally every movie featuring Mel Gibson that was ever made. The downside of the large amount of films without any taboos is that audiences got used to it; and what once was thrilling, suddenly has become ordinary. That forces directors nowadays to come up with even weirder and more extraordinary ideas to supplant already existing ones. Daft Punk says it best: Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger. It demonstrates courage to take a step back, swim against the stream, and work with minimalist techniques to attract the audience’s attention. And that is exactly what Jordan Peele does brilliantly with his psychological horror/ thriller movie “Get Out.”
Chris, performed by Daniel Kaluuya (known from the Netflix show “Black Mirror-Fifteen Million Merits”), is an African-American photographer who is going to meet his potential parents-in-law for the first time. His white girlfriend, Rose Armitage, plans to introduce him to her parents during a weekend visit on her family’s property outside of the city, in an isolated, rural area. Chris is nervous about the meeting and addresses the elephant in the room by asking Rose: “Do they know I’m black?” Although an “interracial” relationship should be a normal, common occurrence in the 21st century, the movie wastes no time in criticizing the fact that it is still an issue for some people. Although Rose assures Chris that her parents are not racist (her father would vote for Obama a third time, if possible), the tension stays. The suspicion that racism could be a leitmotif in the movie gets strengthened by a clichéd, country bumpkin traffic cop who treats black people unfairly. The central theme of racism gets definitively confirmed when Chris discovers that the Armitages, who represent the stereotype of a wealthy white family, employ two black servants. He also learns very quickly that everybody on the property acts in a strange manner, including the servants. During the course of the story, Chris and the viewer learn bit by bit about a terrible secret of the Armitages…
As I mentioned, the stylistic elements Jordan Peele operates with are outstanding, so that “Get Out” rises above all of the mediocre horror movies. Maybe the best way to explain it is to use a metaphor: Think back to your childhood, when you got into mischief again. What frightened you more? When your parents screamed at you and told you how much trouble you were in? Or maybe the silent treatment, when you knew that something was wrong, and you did not receive the punishment that you anticipated? For me, it was the silence that drove me crazy, because it discomforted me, and I could not tell what would happen next. The same phenomenon can be observed in “Get Out.” The silent moments creep you out the most, and make you literally stop breathing until somebody or something breaks the silence. Many other horror movies with all their sound effects and tons of blood cannot keep up with the oppressive atmosphere that Peele creates in “Get Out”.
Although the movie has only an outside chance of wining the Oscar, I believe it deserves to win because of its revolutionary horror techniques, that makes the movie truly terrifying. We will all be wiser after the event, on March, the fourth, but I still recommend “Get Out,” whether it wins or not.