Genre: Horror
Premise: When a young black man visits the rich parents of his white girlfriend, he begins to suspect that he was brought here for another reason entirely.
About: Key and Peele are two of the more active actors in Hollywood at the moment. After their hit Comedy Central show ended, they hit the town hard. Their most recent film, Keanu, didn’t turn the box office upside-down, but for a comedy about a kitten, it did all right. Key is now starring in the much-buzzed-about dramedy about improv actors, How to be Better. And Peele took a left turn with today’s script, a horror flick he wrote and will direct. Can the comedy-centric actor break out of that pigeon-hole? We shall see.
Writer: Jordan Peele
Details: 98 pages – undated

Jordan Peele

If you’re anything like me, and you probably aren’t (but let’s pretend you are), you heard that “Peele” from the hit comedy series “Key and Peele” was doing a horror movie called “Get Out” and you thought, “Like comedy horror?” Cause he couldn’t possibly be writing a straight horror movie.

And hence we venture into the pervasive universe of pigeonholing. This town wants you to be ONE WAY, and anybody who tries to be two-way gets a one-way ticket out on a Greyhound.

It’s one of the reasons I encourage writers to write in the genres they like most. Because if they try out another genre for the hell of it, and that happens to be the genre they break in with? There’s a very real chance that that’s the genre they will be writing for the rest of their career.

So I’ve got to give it to Jordan Peele. To convince someone to give him money for anything other than comedy is a huge win. This script must be great.

26 year-old photographer Chris Washington is in love. His girlfriend, Rose Armitage, is everything you’d ever want in a woman. She’s beautiful, sweet, cool, funny. Oh, and white. Chris, on the other hand, is black.

Now we live in 2016, so this kind of thing shouldn’t matter. But Chris is nervous because they’re visiting Rose’s parents for the first time and Rose hasn’t told her parents that she’s dating her first black guy. Maybe you want to give them a heads up, Chris suggests. But Rose says they’re totally cool and it won’t be a problem.

So off to the affluent suburb of Richville they go, and indeed Rose’s parents are great. They don’t even blink when they see Chris, and are busting jokes left and right as if he’s already their son-in-law. However, Chris can’t help but notice that the “help” around the house is all black.

The father picks up on Chris’s concern and explains that they cared for his ailing mother and father before they died, became family, and they couldn’t part with them. But Chris isn’t so sure. There’s something distant and weird about them, almost as if they’re… trapped.

The next day Chris learns that the Armitages are holding a party and a few hours later tons of rich white folk start rolling in. All of them seem fascinated by Chris, and have all sorts of questions for him. Needless to say, Chris catches on that something seriously fucked up is going on here and tries to leave. Only the Armitages were prepared for this, and have put in some safeguards that it doesn’t happen… EVER.

The first thing I noticed about Get Out was that it wasn’t written by a white male.

I bring this up because 9 out of every 10 screenplays in Hollywood are written by white males. There’s nothing wrong with this. I think a lot of white men just enjoy writing and therefore pursue it.

But when you read a good script told outside of that point-of-view, it becomes evident just how narrow the white male point of view is. Most white males enjoy the same things. Therefore we get the same genres, the same stories, the same characters. No one’s thinking outside the white box.

Get Out starts with a great scene following a black man jogging in an upscale white neighborhood and the sudden fear he endures because of the situation. This is followed by a scene of Chris voicing his fear to Rose that her parents should know her boyfriend is black before he shows up at their door.

These things aren’t thought about by the average white person because it’s not something they have to think about. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that either. You see the world through your own eyes so if you don’t experience conflict in an area, you aren’t as likely to explore it.

With that said, one of your jobs as a writer is to place yourself inside of different people’s points of view. And unless you do that, your entire story will be limited to the same generic shit that every other middle-class white dude is writing about.

Every story’s already been told. We’ve established that. It’s why all these sequels have been tanking. Uh, we saw that already. IN THE FIRST FILM! Therefore the only way to make something new is to find a new angle into it. I’m not saying race is the only way to do this but it’s one of the ways. So if you want to push your writing to the next level, exploring different points of view is a good way to do so.

Get Out is a really good script. And a big part of that is because of how fresh it feels. As this story goes on, we become acutely aware that Chris is being surrounded and that something bad is going to happen when that surrounding climaxes. To that end, it’s a pretty basic horror setup.

But the mystery about what’s happening to these black people who have found themselves inside the Armitage Home is what makes it different. And what’s great about this script is that you think you know what’s happening but when the explanation finally rolls around, you realize you had it all wrong.

I love when horror movies do that. When you think you’ve picked out the rug and then the rug is pulled out from under you.

I also love horror that takes place in non-obvious places. Anybody can throw a bunch of people into a dark old house and try out for the jump-scare olympics. But to place horror in broad daylight and still make it scary? That’s when you know you’ve written something good.

In fact, one of the script’s scariest moments – the opening scene – takes place in the middle of the day. A black man is jogging in the middle of a white neighborhood and a car slowly follows him along. Fed up, the jogger yells at the driver, only to be shot and dragged into the car in the middle of a beautiful suburban neighborhood on a perfect day. Nobody comes to help. Now that’s freaking scary.

Now there is a bit of “hold on, wait a minute” going on at the end. Writers over the age of 33 still believe that it’s possible for people to disappear and nobody will notice because they grew up in the pre-internet era when people really could disappear and that would be it. But these days, with cell phones and social media, if someone doesn’t post an update for 3 hours, a search party is put together to find them. So the idea that all of these black people disappeared and no one could find them… uhhh, I’m not so sure about that.

Still, the mark of any good script for me is, would I read to the end if I didn’t have to review it? I definitely would’ve read this whether I was reviewing it on Scriptshadow or not. I had to find out how it was going to end. This was good stuff!

[ ] What the hell did I just read?
[ ] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth the read
[x] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: If you’re not a white male, EMBRACE that in your writing. I’m not saying you can only write about your culture. But if you’re from Ghana, at the very least, write a Ghanian character into your script. Your specific point of view is what’s going to make your story unique. I recently gave notes on a script from a Chinese screenwriter who was writing about a group of bar-hopping Chinese men living in the U.S. You could’ve swapped in white American men and nothing would’ve changed. I explained to the writer that he needed to embrace the cultural perspective he was writing from. Otherwise, he was rewriting Swingers with Chinese guys. And we’d already seen that movie.