Last Tuesday evening, over 200 people crowded the Pollock theater for a screening of the four-time Oscar nominated horror film “Get Out.” This screening featured a live Q&A with director/writer/producer Jordan Peele, moderated by Matthew Ryan. The audience experienced “Get Out” in a theater, a place that Peele found refuge in at a young age, with a new understanding as he elaborated on the challenges and triumphs of the film.
Leading up to the event, a line wrapped around the Pollock theater as fans mingled and shared their excitement. As they waited in line, students asked for extra tickets in hope of scoring a seat in one of the most highly anticipated events on campus this quarter.
Twists and reveals are Peele’s specialty. To disguise his twists, Peele uses the history of film; he takes what we expect and shatters it. Peele creates work with the audience’s reaction in mind. He explained that this mindset stems back to his comedy background in “Key and Peele.” Though he transitioned from comedy to horror, he remains conscious of the audience’s emotions and what they think is going to happen next. Still, Peele stays away from one major twist, instead focusing on a series of escalating reveals. This kept Chris’s actions smart and realistic, while also keeping the film’s rewatchability factor high as audiences would see the hidden motives and hints hidden in the first half of the film.
“I really nailed it with the casting,” Peele interjected as Ryan asked him how Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), Rose (Allison Williams) and Rod (Lil Rel Howery) were casted.
For Chris, Kaluuya impressed Peele with his work on the tv series “Black Mirror.” Peele assures the audience that Kaluuya never left his number-one choice for Chris. Kaluuya’s ability to express a full range of emotion was exactly what Peele was looking for.
For Rose, Peele was looking for a naturalistic performer, and while her background in musical theater may seem disconnected from the horror genre, Peele knew that “theater people have a bit of psychopath in them.” In the end, Williams was perfect for both aspects of Rose’s character.
Lastly, when it came to Rod, Peele was unsure who he was writing the character for until he met Howery. When Howery auditioned, Peele described it as “imperfect.” It was tough to direct him at first, but once Peele had Howery approach the lines through the lens of his stand-up comedy background, he transformed into the charismatic, funny, witty TSA cop that we see in the film.
The sunken place: Peele expands on this idea as he goes into depth of what this place entails. He describes it as a place that encapsulates a feeling worse than death, “the feeling of being trapped in your own body for eternity with no voice.” To further explain his point, he compares it to the feeling that you have when you’re falling in your sleep and you catch yourself as you suddenly wake up. He follows this with a haunting question: “What if you didn’t catch yourself? Where would you end up?” The room fell silent as that metaphor set in.
To lighten the mood, Peele talked about alternate endings. There were two endings that were filmed: an ending with Chris going to jail and the ending shown in the film. To our surprise, there was one more. This ending took place in a gated community rather than the ranch seen in the movie. In this scene, we would have seen Chris fighting with some final force as the screen goes black. The next scene reads “3 months later,” and it would have shown Rod breaking into the gated community and, to his surprise, he would see Chris. As Rod calls for Chris, Chris slowly turns and says, “I assure you, I don’t know who you’re talking to.” This ending implies that Chris lost in his last fight for freedom and has undergone the brain transplant surgery. With that said, I am glad it ended the way Peele ultimately chose. However, it is interesting to see where the ending could have gone.
As the Q&A came to a close, Peele disclosed some facts about himself that gave the audience a better understanding of who he is. He explained how when he was a kid, he would go to the movie theater after school, and he described it as his church. One movie that stuck with him was “Edward Scissorhands.” Peele explained that he appreciated the “acute vision” Tim Burton explored as every concept came together perfectly. The fact that the main character was an outcast also intrigued him.
As Peele continues to make movies, he will introduce themes and ideas that have never been done before. The troupe of the white savior was not represented in this film which is unheard of given that there is at least one in every film in the movie industry. After 23 days of filming and a 4.5 million dollar budget, “Get Out” has become a film that will stand the test of time and will continue to reveal the horror of liberal racism.