That Get Out will compete as a comedy during awards season is not a surprise. Although packed with thrills and scares, it ultimately exists as social satire—which, while not always funny, is a form of comedy. Also, this comedy distinction makes it more likely to win within its categories. For myriad annoying-as-the-fuck reasons, comedies, when compared with other popular movie genres, are generally treated like toddler siblings, while the “big boy” dramas and action movies and psychological thrillers and sweeping period pieces get the bulk of the critical consideration.
So while Get Out’s chances might not have been as favorable if it were nominated for Best Motion Picture—Drama, its critical and commercial success—plus the biting and relevant social commentary—would seem to make it a heavy favorite for Best Motion Picture—Musical or Comedy.
But let’s forget about all of that for now. Instead, I’m curious—was Get Out more funny or scary?
Of course, it contained parts meant to be humorous—particularly each of Lil Rel Howery’s scenes. And it contained enough jump scares and other cinematic devices associated with thrillers and horror to be considered scary. But which was it more of?
I have my own conclusions—which I’ll share a bit later—but before we get to that, let’s list what would qualify for funny and for scary:
- Again, each scene with Lil Rel Howery—whose purpose in the movie was basically to be a stand-in for the (black) audience members. He was basically, “NIGGA, DON’T OPEN THAT DOOR!” personified.
- The extreme placidity of each of the black characters at the Armitages’. Not meant to be funny in a “haha” way but in a “Holy shit, WTF is wrong with that nigga?” way.
- Everything with Lakeith Stanfield’s middle-aged-white-dude costume—his lobotomized mannerisms, his clothes, his cluelessness with pound etiquette—which would best be described as “aggressively Patagonia.”
- Rose Armitage’s pervasive and consummate and insidious whiteness, best exemplified by the scene toward the end of the movie where she’s sitting on her bed, browsing the internet for black athletes, drinking milk with a straw and eating a bowl of dry-ass cereal one piece at a time. This was the whitest thing I’ve ever seen.
- The sunken place, of course.
- The kidnapping at the beginning of the movie, which could actually land in the funny category because of Stanfield’s self-aware comments to himself before he was taken. He was also acting as a bit of a black-audience-member stand-in, but it was too late for him. He was already doomed.
- The several jump scares throughout the movie, starting with the deer hitting Rose and Chris’ car (which, in the theater I was in, made a woman in front of me say, “Man, fuck this shit”).
- The stretch where Chris is subdued and then prepped for his lobotomy.
- The moments after Chris escapes when both “Grandma” and “Grandpa” spring to life and try to kill him.
- The scariest scene of all—to me, at least—is when the cop car approaches after Chris has finished murdering all of those white people and their black help. Of course, it turned out to be his boy there to rescue him, but even I felt my fight-or-flight sense engaged when seeing that.
The answer here depends on your perspective. And also, oddly, racial politics. I laughed more while watching the movie than I was scared. Even the “scary” parts were followed by chuckles of recognition. Like, “Holy shit, I can’t believe this is happening.” I also saw it in a predominantly black movie theater, and my reactions mirrored those of most of the moviegoers.
That said, I have to admit that I’d probably feel a certain way if I watched it in a predominantly white theater and heard laughs during some of the scarier/creepier parts. Like, um, y’all don’t have permission to be laughing at any of this! THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT!!! And I imagine that many white people who saw this movie felt similarly and refused to laugh because they just weren’t sure if the movie was allowed to be funny to them.
So my verdict is that Get Out was more funny than scary. But it was actually more creepy than anything else (unless, of course, you’re white, which means you need to watch this shit like a documentary).