It's been a long time since a horror film has been as socially relevant as the upcoming movie Get Out, written and directed by Jordan Peele. You probably know him from being half of the comedy duo Key and Peele, but — as Jim Carrey and Robin Williams have proved in great dramatic performances — comedians are very good at setting a darker tone.
Jordan Peele appears to be no different. He's known for writing sharp skits that carry a dark sense of humor, and now he is bringing that darkness to the big screen.
Get Out follows an interracial couple, Chris and Rose, visiting Rose's family for the first time. When Chris expresses concern that Rose's family doesn't know that he's black, Rose assures him everything will be fine. All does appear to be fine — until Chris discovers some very Stepford Wife-type servants who just "happen" to be black, and he discovers that black people tend to disappear when visiting this area.
There also appears to be a lot of freaky mind control and experiments going on at Rose's family home. The trailer for the movie is a mix of invigorating and "WTF," a puzzling feeling that makes you want to see more.
Just In Time For Black History Month
Surely, it's no coincidence that this film is premiering on February 24th during Black History Month, using the horror genre to bring the frightening reality of U.S. race relations to big screen.
Similarly, the 1995 cult-classic film Tales From The Hood used horror as a platform to give race relations a powerful spotlight. Although not a huge box-office success at the time, it has gone on to gain a cult following for its seamless blend of scares and satire.
Jordan Peele has said that his inspiration for Get Out is the 1968 zombie classic Night of The Living Dead, which brilliantly dealt with serious racial issues through the horror genre lens. It was the first, and sadly one of the very few, horror films to have an African-American male as the lead character. Even though our main character Ben makes it to the end of the film as a hero, he is shot at first sight by the cops because he is "mistaken" as a living dead monster. The message director George A. Romero got across is unmistakable: America's irrational fear of black people is very real.
Fear Can Go Both Ways
Get Out expresses, however, African-Americans' very real fear of the Caucasian population as whole. As the main character expresses: "I get nervous when I'm around too many white people." It's a very bold and accurate depiction of how African-Americans feel; with police brutality, children being bullied in school, and an upswing of racial negativity since Donald Trump's victory, it's no wonder black people are on edge.
The mind control experiments in the film are clearly a metaphor for well-to-do liberals and conservatives telling black people to just quiet down and accept the status quo. Something tells me our main character, Chris, is not going to submit without a hell of a fight.
Get Out is sure to be controversial, but before dismissing this film, consider how unfortunate it is that African-Americans still feel a need to make a movie expressing how unsafe we feel in our own country. Although race relations have improved since 1968, the message expressed in Night of The Living Dead has not changed much at all.
Horror is often on the front line of addressing human fears of aliens, evil children, bugs and other terrifying things. It's about time horror once again tackles a very realistic terror: the modern (and justifiable distress) minorities have of the majority.
Get Out is in theaters February 24th. What other horror films do you think made a bold political statement? Sound off in the comments!