Hey, will you look at that, it’s been almost two years since I’ve written about movies! Anyways, I just caught the trailer for Jordan Peele’s directing debut, and I’m pretty excited about it. I’ll describe it now, but feel free to scroll down and watch it for yourself first.
The trailer for Get Out opens on a couple preparing to visit the girl’s parents for the first time. She’s white, he’s black, and the parents don’t know it. On their way there, they hit a deer, and it’s the first sign that we’re actually in a horror movie (brought to us by the producers of The Visit, Insidious, and The Gift). The parents have a large estate with black servants, and from the looks of it, something’s not right. The servants are creepy, the parents are creepy, the neighbors are creepy, and the score is strongly suggesting that we be creeped out. About halfway through the trailer we learn that black people have been disappearing from the area. Something sinister is going on, and whatever it is, race is a part of it.
I don’t know that I’ve seen a horror movie really tackle race. I’ve seen plenty that feature black characters, though usually those characters tend to be ancillary and to die. Valerie Complex of blackgirlnerds.com wrote an awesome article entitled “Will It Get Better for Black People in the Horror Genre?” in which she breaks down the most common black archetypes in horror movies. According to her they are “the Ghetto Dweller,” “the Mythical/Sacrificial Negro,” the Voice of Reason,” and “the Sidekick.” Rarely are they the hero, and often do they die. Even when they are the hero, like in 1968′s Night of the Living Dead (which is a startling example because at the time it must have been very controversial to have a black hero), I don’t think the horrors have to do with race. That’s what’s so cool about Get Out. It seems like it is purposely playing on fears specific to black people (not that other races wouldn’t be afraid of these same things of course).
In the trailer Daniel Kaluuya’s character at one point states, “If there’s too many white people, I get nervous.” I’m a black man, and I’m almost always conscious of when I’m the only black person in a room full of strangers. So I can identify with the tension Daniel’s character would be feeling. I also have a visceral reaction to seeing a white family with black servants. It makes me uncomfortable. It harkens back to a time full of more horrors than anything I’ve seen in movies. Also, black people disappearing from a mostly white neighborhood is absolutely frightening.
I love that Jordan Peele is the person behind this. I haven’t seen much of Key & Peele but I know they tackle race issues head on. Also Peele’s fiancee is Chelsea Peretti, a white stand-up/actor, so I feel like he’ll have some cool insights into what it’s like being in an interracial relationship. Being in one myself, I’m curious to see how he explores that.
It also gives me hope that we’ll get to see minority writers and directors making horror films that speak to their specific experiences and fears. For instance I’d love to see what a modern Muslim American horror film would look like.
What I don’t love so much about the trailer is the trailer itself. When the deer hits the windshield it looks more comical and than scary. At about the 2 minute mark the trailer shows Daniel’s character in a hypnotic trance, which is a turn off as I’m not a fan of dream-like sequences. There’s a slight campy feeling to this movie that reminds me of Sam Raimi’s horror films, none of which I enjoyed. In fact if you remove the race issue from this movie, I’m not even sure I’m that interested.
Regardless, I’m excited to see this. I specifically want to support Jordan Peele’s directing debut, and I generally want to support filmmakers with unique voices, especially minority filmmakers. Also I like that Keith Stanfield is in this movie. His character, Darius, from Atlanta easily my new favorite TV character.