Get Out will always be Jordan Peele’s masterpiece. Although he has produced amazing movies and TV shows, including Us, The Twilight Zone and BlacKkKlansman, Peele’s indie social thriller film still gets under viewers’ skins. The film centres around a young black man, Chris, who visits his girlfriend’s parents on a weekend getaway. However, things get weird after Rose’s mum, Missy, hypnotises him. Rose’s parents and their friends make disconcerting comments about Chris’ skin colour, which, naturally, creeps him out. After encountering more strange occurrences, Chris realises that things aren’t what they seem.
On the surface, it may be a film about a racist cult, seeking to gain immortality by bodysnatching the bodies of black people. But after a couple of rewatches, it’s a film about marginalisation, slavery and eugenics. What makes Get Out stick out from contemporary horror films is its use of symbolism and nods to American history. Every motif alludes to black slavery, linking to the movie’s theme of enslavement and marginalisation.
Let’s uncover the hidden Easter eggs.
The sunken place
Everyone knows the iconic scene where Missy hypnotises Chris, resulting in him falling in a black void. This void is named ‘the sunken place’ and, according to Jordan Peele, it symbolises marginalisation and how the system silences us no matter how loud we scream. This establishes the fact that minorities, especially black people, are still marginalised to this day, showing how times have not entirely changed. The ‘sunken place’ symbolises the slavery of black people. Near the movie’s climax, it is revealed that the Armitage family are the founders of the Order of the Coagula, a secret society that kidnaps, brainwashes, and trades places with healthy Afro-American by implanting the brains of elderly relatives and friends into younger, fitter black people. As a result, the black people end up being slaves in their own bodies.
The deer is a recurring motif in Get Out. At the beginning of the film, Rose and Chris accidentally hit a deer on the way to the Armitage house. In the next scene, Dean, Rose’s dad, goes on a rant about deers, saying that they’re destroying the landscape and should be eradicated. The way he speaks about deer is reminiscent of eugenics, which is the belief that the quality of the human species can be improved through eradicating the reproduction of people with undesirable traits. The deer are metaphors for people of colour, since deers, like black people, are a stigmatised race. This rant also foreshadows the Armitage’s true colours. At the film’s climax, Chris finds himself in a room full of mounted deer heads. The mounted heads share parallels with the captured black people. This is because deers are associated with slavery; when the British Empire formed the Transatlantic Trade and captured Africans, they gave them deer names, which stripped them of their humanity. This symbol becomes an ironic symbol after Chris impales Rose’s father with a deer’s antlers.
The Armitage family’s home
With its Antebellum architecture, white pillars and elegant decor, the Armitage family’s lavish mansion is reminiscent of a plantation house. The plantation house is significant to the southern American imagery featured in Get Out. During the 18th and 19th century, African slaves were forced to work at plantations, where they harvested cotton and sugar. Also, many of these plantations were in the southern states, including Alabama, where Get Out was filmed in.
The Coagula members’ clothes
Throughout the get-together, the Armitage family and their friends wear red. This may be a reference to the Confederate States flag, since its main colour is red. The allusion is significant to their beliefs, since the Confederacy’s economy was reliant upon the plantation system and the labour of African slaves. Like many southerners back in the 19th century, the Coagula members believe that a white person’s mind is superior, a reason why they transplant their brains into the bodies of athletic black people.
The bingo auction
The plot thickens when the Armitage family’s friends attend a party at the Armitage estate. This is shown during their supposed bingo game in the Armitage’s gigantic garden. However, the bingo game is secretly an auction, where the family members bid on Chris. The auction is reminiscent of slave auctions, many of which took place in the southern states. Interestingly, the players’ cards already have ‘bingo’ scored on them, which signifies how they are winners in society due to their class privilege.
The main theme, “Sikiliza Kwa Wahenga”, is significant to the film’s theme of racism and marginalisation. The song was sung in Swahili except for the word “brother” which has a universal meaning among black people. When Chris meets Logan, he calls him “brother”, which signifies his relief in seeing another black person at the Armitage’s gathering as well as his comfort in talking to Logan. The movie’s composer, Michael Abels, the voices in the song symbolise the souls of lynching victims and black slaves trying to warn Chris that something bad is coming. The main lyrics are “Brother, run! Listen to the elders. Listen to the truth. Run away! Save yourself.” he song’s title is a Swahili phrase which translates to “listen to your ancestors”, which links to the black slaves’ souls in the song as well as the victims of the Coagula procedure. To hammer the point home, the film’s title is called Get Out, which one of the Coagula procedure victims shrieks at Chris.
Near the end of the film, Chris is trapped and bound to a chair in the Armitages’ basement, where he’s forced to listen to recordings of a spoon scraping Missy’s teacup. The sound triggers his hypnosis and supposedly sends him to the ‘sunken place’. Just before Jeremy takes him to surgery, Chris sneaks up behind him and bludgeons him with a croquet ball. It’s revealed that he blocked his ears with cotton, which blocked out the sound of the clinking spoon and cup. This is an ironic allusion to slavery, since black people were forced to collect cotton for the Transatlantic Trade. Cotton saves Chris from his hypnosis and frees him from his captors.
All these hidden meanings allude to slavery and racism, which makes the film even more unsettling. These minor details showcase Jordan Peele’s impeccable eye for detail, a reason why I love watching his films. Get Out is a thought-provoking, gripping and shocking film, which I’d recommend to horror enthusiasts.
Featured Image: Still from YouTube.