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Get Out - 2017

Get Out - Released Feb 24, 2017. Directed by Jordan Peele

Get Out reminds me of something: in the 1942 Ghost of Frankenstein, Ygor (Bela Lugosi) has a badly damaged body from various encounters with angry villagers. His neck was broken and right arm socket pulled loose, and it all fused back together in an awkward and painful way causing him to limp and turn painfully. So, when Ygor learns that Dr. Frankenstein's other son (Ludwig, played by Sir Cedric Hardwicke) is going to be doing some transplanting and repair on the powerful body of the monster "Frankenstein," Ygor volunteers his brain for the upgrade, he'd be delighted to get a new body. This is the premise that fuels much of the mayhem in Get Out, an imaginative, well done thriller/interracial meditation/horror movie from director Jordan Peele.

No angry villagers here in Get Out, but we do have a mob of self-satisfied upper-class white people who are aging out from their deteriorating bodies. Luckily for them, they've got a medical genius in their midst, Doctor Armitage (Bradley Whitford) who is the son of a nearly-famous man who got outrun by Olympiad athlete Jesse Owens back in 1936.

From Jesse Owens to moving white-people-brains to black-people-bodies might seem like a stretch, but it's no more a distance than getting Ygor's brain into Frankenstein's, and in that way Get Out is a reanimation of a classic monster movie identity crisis. Director and writer Peele doesn't plow straight into the weird science of transplanting brains, but uses it as an ace card when we've been pulled through about an hours worth of racially-tinged discomfort for normal urban black man Chris Wallace (Daniel Kaluuya) and his white girlfriend Rose Armitage (Allison Williams) who have driven off into a green wilderness to visit Rose's parents who live in a kind of Gothic isolation familiar to the cinematic fans of Dr. Frankenstein (madman surgeons seem to need a lot of insularity, maybe for their nerves).

Peele adds some clever elements that makes Get Out a mammoth evolution on mad doctor movies, which is to set his characters into a kind of racial quarantine within their own bodies, which is strange and opaque enough to allow for any number of interpretations from all kinds of angles (the original identities of the hijacked bodies briefly appear at times, giving Peele's story a wounded pathos helping lift it above it's pulpy elements, a kind of reverse of Larry Talbot's anguish from Lon Chaney Jr's Wolfman movies).

Peele also adds some dark humor that is hilariously disturbing, like the modern-era 'slave auction' where the main character (Chris) is seen in a photo within a large, elegant, golden frame on an easel on the raised platform of the Armitage gazebo, where Neurosurgeon Armitage has gathered bidders to pay for the right to check-in to Chris' soon-to-be vacant body like a bizarre 5-star hotel. Besides the racially charged situation of the story, there's also the paranoia of youth-vs-the-aged and the threat of private, superior medical science coupled with wealth that makes the unsuspecting 'normal' person into just another replacement part. It's Dr. Frankenstein's "now I know what it feels like to be God" dehumanization project pushed to a new level.

Original Page June 19, 2017

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