**In this series, I will be discussing films and their endings that lift the veil on the secrets the viewer missed. This includes diving into some spoilers, so read no further if you want to keep the element of surprise.**
In 2017, Jordan Peele shocked audiences around the world. Widely known for his comedy skits on Key and Peele, Peele announced his debut film would be a horror film titled Get Out and would majorly feature themes on race and culture. Get Out opened with overwhelmingly positive buzz and financial success, launching Peele to high-profile director status and crafting an incredible horror story with one of the wildest twists seen seen in years. However, Peele knew that adding a twist his movie doesn’t necessarily make the movie good. Instead, a movie handled by an expert shows all the clues and answers early on before the question is even known. Before we get into what clues Peele implanted, let’s dive into the story and twist of Get Out.
Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) experiences a difficult transition when he visits the family of his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams). Unsure of how the white, wealthy Armitages will take to his difference of color and culture, Chris tries to get comfortable but can’t help to notice how strange people of color are around the family. Before he knows it, Chris is put under hypnosis by Rose’s therapist mother, Missy (Catherine Keener) and, in third act, finds himself tied to a chair and forced to listen to a video put together by the family. We, along with Chris, learn that The Armitage’s have developed a surgical process where they can submerge an individual’s consciousness (i.e. “the sunken place”) and implant someone else’s consciousness into their bodies. For decades, the family has been auctioning off and hypnotizing black men and women and implanting their white friends and family into their bodies – hoping to keep their lives longer and more cultured.
Chris escapes – after killing most of Rose’s family – and has a final showdown with Rose before a cop car pulls up on what appears to be a black man attacking a white woman. Naturally, Chris is convinced his life is over. Thankfully, Chris’ friend, Rod, is revealed to be the driver and helps Chris escape. This completes the full circle of Get Out‘s observation of race and the privilege assumed by some to get further in life.
Get Out‘s twists are enjoyable enough on their own merit, but the true masterful touch of Jordan Peele is how he gives new meaning to a cornucopia of comments and subplots throughout the film. First, let’s look at the clues hinted to us about the Armitage’s and their ulterior motives.
We eventually learn that Rose has been selecting young black men for years, as shown while she is “shopping” through athletes online and eating cereal separate from a glass of milk (a further nod to her belief of class separation). These men (and some women) would eventually meet Rose’s family and be have their bodies inhabited by upper class white minds. In the opening credits, we are shown the contrast of Chris grooming himself after a shower while Rose is window shopping for some food. On a second watch, this action fully reflects what Rose has been doing for years with her black dates: selecting new victims. Chris later arrives to the Armitage’s beautiful home and shares how they hit a deer on their way in. Dean Armitage (Bradley Whitford), Rose’s father, celebrates the annihilation of deer, saying they are vermin that need to be extinct. Of course, this is all made even more clear when Chris eventually pierces Dean with a mounted pair of antlers, showing that the prey is now the predator. This will join the long list of foreshadowing we experience during Chris’ tour of the house.
Dean introduces Chris to a portrait of his father who was an Olympic runner, beaten out by Jesse Owens during the Munich Olympics. Dean’s father was upset to lose to Jesse, which explains why he later would transfer his mind out of an aging body into an athletic black man who is constantly running at night. The jealousy Dean’s father had over Owens was the beginning of his experiment and “fascination” with black bodies. His wife, on the other hand, always had a fascination of beauty and would constantly be looking at her own reflection. This gives reason to the multiple times we can see the housemaid Georgina observing herself through mirrors and admiring her hair. Dean also explains how he travels the world, bringing culture from different countries back to his home. This is meant to give reason for Chris to be afraid but Chris, much like the audience, assumes he is just unsure of how to speak to someone of a different color.
Rose’s brother, Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones), admits an obsession to fighting, going as far as putting Chris in a headlock during dinner. He offers to Chris that with the right training, he could be a “total beast.” This explains where Jeremy’s mind is at throughout the movie, viewing Chris as solely a machine with superior physical strength and nothing else. This also gives us insight into Jeremy’s method of picking his victims by abducting and out-performing them physically. Jeremy believes he is more powerful and can – through the body-swapping process- help their bodies become stronger.
Missy, Rose’s mother, is more of a ring leader in the shadows, letting her family garner attention while she studies and observes Chris. We later learn that she uses therapy and hypnosis to submerge the black consciousness, thus allowing Dean to perform the transplant surgery. Perhaps the exact moment audiences catch on to Get Out‘s extraordinary level of symbolism is when Chris uses cotton from the chair he was tied to in order to block his ears from Missy’s hypnosis process. The idea of Chris saving himself from this crazed white family by using a product commonly affiliated with the oppression of his race is a brilliant, horrifying decision by Peele that furthers the racial themes on full display.
Of course, when looking for any clues on what’s really happening in the Armitage household, one most look no further than Chris’ interactions with the Armitage’s older friends during their house party. The guests riddle Chris with questions about life as a black man in America, seemingly not understanding how to appropriately speak to someone of a different race. However, beyond face value, it’s evident that the guests are solely shopping Chris as a host and treat him as a car model rather than a person. “Do you find you can run faster than others?”. “Is it true what they say about black men?” These aren’t people unaware of their offensive nature. They are probing Chris to make sure his body is a good fit for their new lives, should they win the auction Dean holds under the gazebo. Which brings us to the “lucky” winner of the auction, Jim Hudson (Stephen Root).
Hudson is a blind artist who takes to Chris, noting how dumb and unaware his fellow guests are around someone like Chris. He learns that Chris is also an artist who specializes in photography. In a sea of people awkwardly treating Chris for the color of his skin and not his own merits, Jim Hudson feels a beacon of hope that not all of the guests will judge him as… well a racist. Unfortunately, that is not the story Jordan Peele is telling. It becomes clear that Hudson is willing to pay any price to ensure himself a new body with the eyes of an artist. It’s a heartbreaking twist, but one that again comments on the ever present nature of race. Ultimately, Hudson dies on the operating table after Chris escapes and fights for his life.
It’s important to note that the passion for photography is something that actually helps Chris free himself from the Armitage’s hellish occupations. Chris’ passion for photography stems from capturing moments for what they are. An interesting belief on its’ own, but one that also disrupts the mental hold the Armitage’s have over the bodies of black men. When we see Chris taking a photo of Lakeith Stanfield’s character, his eyes dilate and reveal the original soul buried underneath, uttering the chilling warning of “get out!” Without his camera skills, Chris may not have escaped the clutches of Rose and her family, or at the very least, he might not have suspected something supernaturally sinister brewing underneath the smiles and Obama praise.
There are many, many more references that are given new meaning after the credits roll for Get Out, but they all ultimately prove that Jordan Peele isn’t just here to just make a film about race or creep audiences out. Peele is in the business of expertly crafting a genuinely horrifying thriller with important topics on race and culture, while ensuring that multiple watches are essential to understanding the truth.