What’s one of the most frequent complaints about horror films? “They were so dumb! Why didn’t they just….”
Not a complaint that can be levelled at any part of Get Out. The audience surrogates never really put a foot wrong…it doesn’t really help though.
The opening scene begins with a clearly lost young black guy walking through, as he puts it in a comic ‘white guy’ voice, “suburbs“. It’s obviously late, the streets are deserted and almost no lights are shown in the surrounding house windows.
The intro is shot from a lowish angle,not tight in the ‘something might appear from offscreen at any moment’ style of lesser horror but confined enough that you can’t see any help or escape routes. He might as well be on the moon for how alone he is. So when a bright white sports car appears and slows to a crawl next to him, it’s an immediate scary situation. The car playing ‘Run Rabbit Run’ is creepy as hell. (What was wrong with people 70 years ago? All the kids songs were terrifying)
The threat is brazen and blatant. So, what do you do? I’d react exactly the way Andre does, with denial, walk away, hope it goes away. Maybe this is nothing, right? Please be nothing, please be nothing.
Perfectly, for a horror film, there’s nothing he can do differently. Shout help? A black guy in an American white neighbourhood, late at night? I’m sure people will rush to his aid. Call the cops? And say what? “A car slowed down next to me” Help will be right there, I’m sure.
So, what can you do? Talk quietly to yourself in the hope that you can quell the rising panic and that everything will be fine you’ll find the right street and you’ll laugh about this later and …oh shit.
Now, once Andre is down, the camera pulls back. We see a pretty clear example of the confidence that comes with being wealthy and white. The attacker slowly drags his victim to his car and loads him into the trunk. He doesn’t check his surroundings, he doesn’t look around. He’s not remotely worried about discovery. He looks… practised, frankly. Business like. So, terrifying in it’s grounded nature.
There’s no way, if you’re a horror fan, you don’t want to know what is happening and what happens next.
I know I can’t wait to see what Jordan Peele does from now on.