Still from YouTube
Jordan Peele's satirical horror film Get Out provided powerful commentary on race relations in America, prompting vital conversations about racism within white liberal communities. Amidst all the loaded socio-political discussions, however, it's easy to miss how Get Out is a treasure chest for film buffs and academics. Filled to the brim with symbolism, the movie takes advantage of horror tropes and devices from throughout cinema history to create a remarkably fresh film. ScreenPrism, a YouTube channel dedicated to unraveling complex films, took a stab at unpacking Get Out's references in a new fourteen-minute-long video analysis.
The video highlights how much the film looked to Rosemary's Baby (1968) and The Stepford Wives (1975) for inspiration. Director and screenwriter Jordan Peele not only borrowed stock characters and themes — like protagonists having their bodies and/or minds taken over — but he also subverted them in order to surprise the audience.
For example, Peele was originally going to finish the film on a dark note, following the precedents of The Stepford Wives and Rosemary's Baby, by having Chris arrested. However, producers felt Peele could achieve a stronger resolution with a happy ending. So Peele wrote a deus ex machina conclusion, a plot device frequently used in ancient Greek tragedies in which a protagonist's problems or conflicts are suddenly resolved.
The video also offers some more convoluted arguments. For example, that Missy's use of tea cups to hypnotise her victims represents the long history of European colonialism tied to the tea trade. Or that the cotton Chris crucially notices sticking out of a hole in his chair in the finale is a visual reference to the Old South's use of slave labour for picking cotton.
What about that deer scene? It symbolises innocence being killed, ScreenPrism asserts. And if you look closely, the deer is a recurring motif. As he tries to escape the Armitage household, Chris grabs the deer head hanging on the wall and uses the antlers to kill Rose's dad. At this moment, the video shows us, Chris has lost his own innocence and is now fighting for his survival.
Dive into the deeper meanings of Get Out below, and decide which theories you believe.
Text André-Naquian Wheeler