By Ryan Lewis Nair
As far as horrors/thrillers go, most revolve around the integral duality of both hype and shock factor, and once you’ve seen a fair majority of them, it’s rare one comes along that lingers and leaves the viewer feeling genuinely ‘scared’ with what they’ve seen. Earlier last month, when internet movie rating site ‘Rotten Tomatoes’ awarded a 99% rating to the new slick psychological horror/thriller Get Out, there was unparalleled anticipation for the film’s success, in an otherwise saturated film market of that genre.
Directed by comedy guru Jordan Peele (known for his comedy series Key & Peele), the plot follows a young African-American man Chris, played by Daniel Kaluuya (Black Mirror), due to meet his white girlfriend’s family for the first time. The twist is not the usual Guess Who or Meet the Parents comical line we’ve seen in dozens of rom-coms before, but rather something much more insidious and terrifying. Unlike the awkward meet and greet between extreme West-liberalists that the film captures, and a nervously-disposed Chris, it is revealed as the film progresses, the girlfriend, Rose, and her family are members of a cult that hunt and hypnotise black people to conduct psychological experiments on their bodies. Packed full with genuine moments of awe-inducing horror, alongside a ground-breaking scene revolving around the aforementioned use of hypnosis, Get Out is refreshing in the sense it toys with the rather real anxieties of racism still prevalent in America (and worldwide).
Well worth a watch for its innovative style, complemented by genre switches between comedy, horror and psychological thriller all at once, what did feel was its decision for a happy, almost fairy-tale ending, rather than one that could’ve—and arguably should’ve—left audiences speechless. What Get Out rather attended to was a ‘hero’ moment in the form of Chris’ friend, who working for a small-time law enforcement agency (and trying to track down Chris ever since he loses contact with him and suspects something is amiss) saves our protagonist, arriving just in the nick of time rather misleadingly in a police car, as Chris is escaping the estate and is mid-strangling Rose…after killing the rest of her family.
Jordan Peele, commented on the choice of a feel-good ending over what was the original plan: ‘In the beginning, when I was first making this movie the idea was, “Okay, we’re in this post-racial world, apparently.” That was the whole idea,’ he revealed. ‘People were saying, like, “We’ve got Obama so racism is over, let’s not talk about it. It’s a wrap.” That’s what the movie was meant to address. These are all clues, if you don’t already know, that racism isn’t over. So the ending in that era was meant to say, “Look, you think race isn’t an issue?” Well at the end, we all know this is how this movie would end right here.’
Hammering home this claim by saying racism was ‘more woke’ than when the film began production, Peele chose a more comedic ending because of several African-American shootings consistently making the headlines in the news. Although, to sympathise with this claim is logical, what the audience expects to happen when the police car pulls up is an accurate reflection of reality and the ‘woke’ fears of racism in the modern world. By swapping out such a controversial, yet powerful ending for a temporary, cheap, heart-jumping moment of happiness when the day is saved, was a big copout, and made this new-age pseudo horror less than perfect, and a film of a different calibre entirely.
Ryan Lewis Nair
Featured image courtesy of Monkeypaw Productions