White Supremacy and Dread“Get Out” Roundtable for Five

In Jordan Peele’s social thriller Get Out, Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) heads out on a road trip to meet the parents of his white girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams). On the way, the couple accidentally hit a deer. Then something isn’t quite right with the groundskeeper and the family maid is staring strangely into mirrors. By the time Rose’s mother (Catherine Keener) hypnotizes Chris, it’s clear that something sinister is hiding behind this white picket fence.

Julie Falk, Dahlia Grossman-Heinze, Soraya Membreno, Patricia Romero, and Andi Zeisler went on a Bitch matinee field trip and convened a roundtable on white-supremacy, horror, and suburbia.

Some spoilers below.

Initial Impressions

Julie Falk: Wait, Allison Williams is in this movie? Well, okay.

Soraya Membreno: I don’t usually like horror movies but I loved this. I think part of what usually gets me in horror films is that you somehow know, immediately, that you’re being set up to be scared. In Get Out, despite the obvious musical cues and moments of suspense, it never really felt far-fetched. That was really interesting to manage as I watched, this simultaneous acknowledgment that it isn’t that scary, but still totally horrifying because the horror is not overt.

Patricia Romero: Positive because the film is scary, but not gory-scary. It’s the type of scary that portrays the real-life fears of Black men and women in America and how white supremacy is deeply entrenched in our country.

Andi Zeisler: Well, I love going into movies knowing almost nothing about them, so this definitely hit me with all the shock moments it was supposed to. I loved the casting: Chris was played by Daniel Kaluuya, whom I remembered from one of the seasons of Black Mirror (where, coincidentally, his character also got played by a white girl). And it was fun to see Catherine Keener play such a quietly horrible character, since in most movies she’s been the person who’s sort of too nice for her own good. And I don’t know the actor who played Rose’s brother, but I felt like I was physically recoiling every time he was onscreen.

Dahlia Grossman-Heinze: Yes, he made every scene he was in so uncomfortable! What a creep. The opening scene is brilliant, scary, unnerving, and sets the stage starkly: Something is wrong in this suburbia.

Andi: Everything about it was so unsettling, but the pace of the film and the way things unfolded felt perfect. Even after I had sort of figured out where the Stepford Wife-ish plot was going, it didn’t feel contrived. But I feel like seeing it again would also reveal things I was too immersed to notice.

Dahlia: I saw it again the day after our field trip.

Patricia: So did I.

Loved It

Andi: I loved the scene in the police station where Rod is trying to explain his theory to the cops and they just fall out laughing. Erika Alexander, who played Max on Living Single, is so funny. But obviously every scene with Rod was gold.

Julie: The opening and closing scenes.

Dahlia: How much the party scene reminded me of Rosemary’s Baby. The simmering dread that rises and rises in each scene. How the family home becomes the site of terror.

Soraya: The party scene was mind blowing. You know before it’s even ended that this movie requires a second viewing.

Patricia: When Chris says, “If I’m around to many white people, I get nervous.” It made me feel like I’m not the only one that feels that way when I am at work, school, or even at my partner’s family gatherings. But mostly because it made made it clear that white people are the scary thing in the movie.

Who would you recommend Get Out to?

Julie: People who kind of want to escape reality for a little while but not really because they know and appreciate that everything is political.

Dahlia: Everyone! People who want to think about a movie for days after seeing it.

Andi: White people? Is that too obvious? I mean, people who are progressive and well-meaning and listen to NPR and can cluck their tongues about outright racism. Guilty liberals! Is Stuff White People Like still a thing? Because this is totally a candidate for that—the idea that white people can watch this film and reassure themselves that of course they aren’t that bad. But there are definitely smaller ways that Get Out indicts us.

Soraya: I think Get Out is definitely geared toward Black audiences. The fact that Chris is able to kill the whole family and walk away feels so redemptive and celebratory and is such a relief. There is something very special about making that visible.

Patricia: I would recommend Get Out to white people living in a city that might seem like a liberal hub (PDX) or folks that are looking for a horror film that depicts the real-life horrors of white supremacy in America and how it plays out within progressive circles.

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