A Hollywood Reader’s Notes on “Get Out”

Get Out is a horror/comedy film, written and directed by Jordan Peele, of sketch comedy duo Key & Peele.  It tells the story of a young black man meeting his white girlfriend’s rich liberal parents for the first time.  However, not everything is as ideal as it appears, and a sinister plot is soon revealed.

Get Out is Peele’s first feature film, and is written and directed with a surprising confidence and competence, injecting a well-balanced element of social commentary that deftly portrays the experience of young black men in contemporary America.  Any genre aficionado knows that social commentary themes are often present in horror and science fiction.

The film was produced by Blumhouse, a studio known for low budget horror (Paranormal Activity, Sinister, Insidious, etc) and made for a budget of $5 million.  A modest amount by Hollywood standards, but it must have felt like a fortune to Peele, coming from TV sketch comedy.  Get Out grossed $30 million on its first weekend.  As of this writing it has a 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is well on its way to breaking $150 million.  By any account, a huge success, and deservedly so.

Often when I see a film like Get Out — an unusual film that finds great success despite, or perhaps because of, defying Hollywood genre  conventions — I imagine what kind of notes the script would have received from studio readers and executives, that shadowy cabal of gatekeepers and tastemakers who daily crush many an aspiring filmmaker’s dream.

Readers are notoriously risk averse, and generally repulsed by anything “too original”, instead looking for established (i.e. overused) genre conventions, formulaic structural dogma, and existing properties with built-in audiences, when evaluating the potential of any material.

It’s also well known that most readers have the heart of a writer, which they keep in a jar on their desk.

In that spirit, I present:


The tone is inconsistent, mixing horror and comedy.  Not sure if this is supposed to be scary or funny.

Protagonist is passive for most of the film.  Things happen to him, instead of him being the prime motivator of the story.  He doesn’t really act in any significant way until the very end of the script.

The “comic relief” character is removed from the main characters and central story, and only interacts with them on the phone, until the very end.  Constantly cutting back to him to deliver exposition is distracting, and slows the pace down.

Some of the logic of the premise breaks down, mixing hypnotism and brain transplant surgery.  If the brains are transplanted, how does the victim’s suppressed personality remain?  Doesn’t make sense.

Does it have to be about black people?  It stretches credibility that old rich white people would want to be transplanted into black people’s bodies.  This “social commentary” element seems grafted on, and distracts from the central story.

There is the core of an interesting science fiction/horror premise here, but the script is undermined by an unnecessary and heavy-handed “social commentary” theme.

Not sure that a young black man can carry a horror movie.  This goes against convention.  A niche market with small box office potential.

Not a good fit for Blumhouse, which primarily focuses on stories about white people in haunted houses.


Leave a Reply