Is there more to come from the horror genre?

Quibbl asks what the ‘Get Out’ Academy Award nominations might signal – is it a mere glitch or could it serve as a catalyst to shift the Academy’s merit preferences?

By Mikheil Shamugia

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On January 23rd 2018, it was announced that horror/comedy film ‘Get Out’, written and directed by Jordan Peele, was to be nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director and Best Screenplay. The last horror film to garner multiple Academy Award nominations was 2010’s ‘Black Swan’, for which Natalie Portman won the Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role. ‘Get Out’ is a masterfully crafted psychological thriller that leaves the viewer pondering for the majority of the film, as it gradually and surreptitiously unfolds its dark trenches. Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) and Rose Armitage (Allison Williams) are a seemingly happy interracial couple, a personified embodiment of the post-racial liberal America. During their visit to Rose’s parents during a weekend in their Lake Pontaco home, Chris is exposed to some murky and suspicious behavior patterns that often take place in his presence: Rose’s dad’s totally unnecessary and exaggerated apologetic attitude towards the race topic – his claim that he “would have voted for Obama a third time if [he] could”; strange behavioral patterns of black housekeepers around the house; a visible disappearance of an accent from Walter, Georgina and Andre (a man that has a “seizure” after Chris tries to take a picture of him), etc. Up until the latter point, where Andre is seen bleeding and warns Chris to “Get out! Get the f… out while [he] still can..,” the audience is still uncertain and dubious of the real intent of the portrayed white neighbourhood – no one is definite about the angle from which the apparent danger is coming from; the plot steadily transpires after the “seizure scene,” when Chris and Rose go out for a walk and discuss the aforementioned incident. While Chris and Rose are away, there is an auction taking place outside of the Armitage’s house, and we clearly see Mr Armitage display Chris’ picture. The tension driven plot is culminated by Chris’ confinement, preparing him for the brain swap surgery, after which Chris’ TSA agent friend, Rod, comes to the rescue. An otherwise corny and sleazy heroic ending was proven effective in the hands of Comedy Central “Key & Peele” star Jordan Peele, as he managed to satirically capture the distress and uneasiness between the racist psychopathic white family and a young black man and introduce a brand new stripe of narrative to the horror genre.

The nature of the successful horror movies that have received Academy Award nominations all share one characteristic: they are not just plain jump-scare bundles, but all contain dramatic sub-plots and are much more assorted. The straight ‘horror’ genre film that manifestly follows sinister ghost & devil developments is almost destined to fail in the broad landscape of the movie industry. Notable psychological thrillers that have been deemed worthy by the Academy include the classics such as: The Exorcist (1973), The Silence of the Lambs (1991), Psycho (1960), The Sixth Sense (1999). Ever since 2010, highly acclaimed hits by the horror genre cult like Sinister (2012), The Conjuring (2013), the Insidious series – all of them failed to make any impact outside of their own coterie. ‘Get Out’ is the first psychological thriller resurgence in years; and although newly reformed body of the Academy ever since the #OscarsSoWhite campaign or this year’s leveled playing field in the film industry may partly be ascribed to the film’s major success, the film’s such acknowledgment could pave the road and shed new light for future alike movies to see the offing of the Academy’s prestigious awards and honors. With La La Land’s monopoly over the Oscars nominations in 2017, amassing 14 nominations equaling 1950’s All About Eve and 1997’s Titanic, this year’s competition seems quite flattened, with comedies like ‘The Disaster Artist’ and ‘Get Out’ considered for Best Motion Picture. ‘Get Out’ already proved to be the best in its category, will it vindicate itself to become one of the eminent films outside of the genre as well? We shall see soon.

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