Get Out

Jordan Peele’s comedy-horror film is a widely acclaimed satire on American racism, which is breaking box office records in the USA. It tells the story of Chris, a young and successful black photographer, who is invited by his white girlfriend Rose to meet her wealthy parents. Her family initially welcomes him. But there is a palpable sense of unease surrounding the mixed-race couple, and the film soon takes a sinister turn. It explores the depths of Chris’s subconscious, takes an unflinching look at some taboo subjects — and suggests the idea of a “post-racial” USA remains a myth.

Racism

Chris is initially very nervous about the trip, wondering how Rose’s parents will respond to their daughter being in a mixed-race relationship. On his way to the family home, Chris faces a subtle example of racism when a police officer stops the car he is travelling in. And when he arrives his fears gradually turn out to be justified. What is racism, and how big a problem does it remain today?

The mind

Rose’s mother uses hypnosis in an attempt to cure Chris of his smoking habit — leading to a dark exploration of his subconscious. Meanwhile much of the story’s message is delivered insidiously, rather than explicitly: for example, Rose’s family greet Chris with poorly-judged and loaded questions. Is the mental world more interesting than the physical?

Horror

From the moment Rose and Chris’s car is struck on the way to the family home, an uneasy atmosphere develops. Later the film turns spectacularly violent. The film chooses often absurd horror as a medium for exploring serious and uncomfortable issues. Does such treatment risk trivialising the important themes being explored?

Family

Rose’s family members all play a different role in creating an uneasy atmosphere for Chris. Her cringe-inducing father Dean plays the role of the wealthy patriarch, who hired two black servants to care for his parents. Her mother Missy controls his mind through hypnosis; her brother Jeremy barely hides his contempt. How important are families — and is the traditional family a force for good?

Liberalism

Get Out is not about the overt racism of white supremacists or Ku Klux Klan members. Its exploration of prejudice is more subtle. Rose’s family are well-to-do, affluent white liberals. Her father assures Chris that he “would have voted for Barack Obama a third time”. But Chris is still relentlessly judged on the colour of his skin. Do liberal policies work in the 21st century?