Get Out is a tremendous film. It is bound to go down as one of the best horror movies of all time, and it deserves to. But not for the reason most people will say it does.
People will tell you that Get Out is a great movie because of its message. And although they’ll say that as praise, it is actually quite insulting. That aspect is nice, but the truth is, Get Out is great because it’s an exceptionally well-made film.
The storytelling, the dialogue, the casting, the acting, the cinematography, the lighting, the music, you name it—it’s all top-notch and comes together perfectly. And that doesn’t happen by default—that takes actual work. Jordan Peele and his cast and crew did an incredible job, and they deserve the lion’s share of the praise.
A film having a good message is a perk and nothing more. It’s the dinky little prize inside of the box of cereal. And in the case of Get Out, we’ve got some of the tastiest and best cereal ever made, and all people want to talk about is how cool the plastic spinning top that came with it is.
If message were what mattered most, AFI’s Top 100 list would be full of After School Specials. Instead, it and most greatest film lists are of exceptionally well-made films—some of them downright deplorable as far as what they have to say, and that’s okay, because they’re not candidates running for office, they’re pieces of art.
Appreciating art is appreciating beauty. It is the realm where you can appreciate the beauty of how something is said without condoning what is said. And if we want better art, it’s important for us to study the how and not the what.
My worry is that we’re now going to get a spat of horror movies trying to mimic Get Out as far as message rather than as far as expertly executing. Studio execs will think to themselves, “A-ha! That’s what we’ve been missing: a message like this!” and then proceed to make the same ol’ garbage but with a better than average message.
That’s what happens every so often: people interpret surface or vestigial elements of a piece as being the key to its success, ape that for a while, see it doesn’t work but don’t realize why, then rinse and repeat with something else. They do it because they want to take a short cut, but there are no short cuts when it comes to doing good work. You gotta just do the work.
Jordan Peele and his cast and crew did the work. Properly acknowledge them for it.