In Stanley Kramer’s Academy Award-winning Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Sidney Poitier plays a black man suddenly thrust into a series of tense, racially-charged situations when he meets his white fiancée’s family for the first time.
Get Out, written and directed by Jordan Peele, borrows Dinner‘s 1967 premise and updates it for a 2017 audience, but has no illusions that those same old racial tensions have somehow lessened or disappeared. Where Dinner culminates in a happy, symbolic group hug of a newly blended family, Get Out takes that same interracial awkwardness and spins it into a straight-up horror story.
During a weekend trip to the countryside to meet his white girlfriend Rose’s (Allison Williams) family for the first time, Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) begins to get the feeling that his potential in-laws might not exactly like him due, in large part, to his race. Chris’ suspicions grow darker as he realizes that the only other black people in the neighborhood seem to be the docile yet apparently mentally disturbed people who work on Rose’s parents’ estate, who bear a striking resemblance to two people reported missing from New York City.
The more that Chris explores the village that Rose’s family has settled into, the clearer it becomes that something’s off. The few black people who are present walk around as if they’re fresh from receiving Stepford-style lobotomies and Rose’s parents seem actively invested in keeping them quiet.
What starts off as a universal story about how uneasy it can be to meet your significant other’s parents quickly spirals into a very specific story about what it can feel like to be a person of color alone in a community of disturbing white people who would much rather you not be there.
Get Out‘s a drastic departure from the comedy that Peele’s known for, but when it drops on February 24, we’ll all have a chance to see how the the funny man tackles racial commentary from his position behind the camera.