In the 2017 film Get Out Rose (who is White) invites Chris (her Black boyfriend) to visit her parents at their country home. The trip involves an ominous drive through the countryside (which includes the death of a deer when it runs into their car). The road trip acts as a buffer zone separating the familiar city environment from the creepy weirdness surrounding Rose’s family and their home.
Like Southern Comfort strange ‘otherness’ lurks just around the corner, within your own national boundaries. Rose’s brother plays the banjo on the doorstep, echoing the banjo-playing redneck child in Deliverance. As with other horror films, like The Hills Have Eyes and Race With the Devil, strange and frightening things happen in rural backwaters. These are places where normal rules do not apply. The journey takes the central character from the world we know into a world that is alien. Like the twisting mountain road in The Shining it makes it far from trivial to simply get up and leave the new environment once problems begin to emerge. This is exacerbated by poor mobile phone coverage and battery issues in Get Out and the extreme winter conditions in The Shining.
Once at the house, Chris witnesses the bizarre behaviour of the Black maid and the Black groundsman. Their unsettling conformity and their culturally White middle-class behaviour sets off warnings in Chris’ mind. There are hints here of a dark family secret, like the family abuse featured in Feston, the surrogate robots from The Stepford Wives (1972), or brainwashing and forced, indentured labour.
Get Out plays with audience expectations, switching between genres, building and subverting one trope after another, creating a series of plot twists and turns. This disorientates the audience: what point of reference should we be using to make sense of and judge this story?