This is part 2 of All the pictures screaming “get out!” in Get Out (2017).
Finally, at one hour into the well-received Blumhouse horror movie, Get Out (2017), all the deception of the movie that it is a domestic drama with a racial element in the manner of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967), though with here and there a few uncomfortable twists, drops away, and we enter down into the true ritual space of a genuine horror movie. Though having played the plot so quietly through the first half the movie makes it impossible for the movie to go all out in depicting the below-stairs conspiracies as deeply figured out in a supernatural way, it is certainly at this point that things take a dark turn. And the click, that, as it were, sets off the whoosh down the wormhole spiral to nightmare, is Rose clicking her hands with a gotcha on her keys, which were never missing. And then mom comes in over the top and clicks her teacup, now wielded as a weapon, and knocks Chris out, who is now hypnotized on the carpet, its patterns representing an entoptic state that has sunk to the deeper level of dream, falling into a nightmare
it is at this point that we once again are delivered, in a movie said to be so novel, of an evergreen trope, the assaulters encircling above, in a circle of heads, the felled assault victim, it is old as time in movies.
but the interesting thing is that the people themselves have to drop their disguises and reveal their true role as functionaries of a well-functioning family cult for delivery of harvested body cult to members of the cult for a price. There is dad, who is the head honcho, and deliverer, the surgeon; there is mom, who has the weapon of hypnotism which disables; there is the henchman, junior, who we saw in the opening prologue of the movie; and then, most surprisingly, there is innocent Rose, who in fact is a body snatcher, cult scout, parts supplier who uses her body and sexuality to get men close to her, bring them to the house, and then they kill them–all of this, on the grandfather’s template, having to do with black men. Interesting, she immediately, upon the stripping bare of the illusion, ties back her hair into a fiercer, workout pony tail, and becomes more like an avenging angel
And in that posture, she is ready to play her part in the cult. Now, as hypnotized, the movie makes use of the effect of the hypnosis to visualize the sinking into the realization of his capture, as he whooshes down, away from all, the circle is there, as per trope
but his downward falling, all illusion of falling away, is dramatized
and now he falls down the whoosh, leaving them up above in the iris of the TV Set shot of the entoptic zone, as Rose calls down, You were one of my favorites, thanks, bitch
and, then, we get a very strange shot. It is from as it were a passing space ship, in the inner space where he floats, and we now see him down beneath, as if underwater, the space above where people live, there also appear to be stars, which metaphorically places him in outer as well as inner space
this shot more or less opens up the underworld, as it were, of the movie, and what that means is that it is at this point that the place he is placed in by hynposis in his mind is by ostension lateral to the dream state made real in both this world, and in a supernatural world below this world. In the physical realm, his underneathness is translated into being captured in the basement; the next level down will be his victimized participation in the surgery; and then his future fate, for he is not to be killed, is to live like the maid or gardener in a zombie subordinated state where as the blind art dealer says “a sliver of you will survive”, what the mom calls ‘the sunken place.” Though I wish she would have spelled out a bit more what this place is, it sounds to me like she has downshifted to a form of modern paganism where the dream state falls out of itself laterally into a physical adjunct space, which I have written of, and, in this case, materializes as a mental-physical space, adjacent to, and participant in, the waking world, but not really, for one is asleep, half of oneself, as a zombie. I have argued previously that the Romans had a dream theory whereby once you got to the bottom of it all, in deep dream state, you could pass through a door guarded by Mercury, to enter into the actual, physical underworld, where the dead rested or lived, and this appears to be a modernday equivalent, though I place it lateral and adjunct to the fourth level whoosh/spiral state, and not the fifth level REM deep dream state
the basement is the first wrung of this hell, in my psychogeography, this occuring in an adjunct glass onion-to-lattice state, where the effects of the dream of hypnosis are made real in time and space, to him. So, the father uber alles is replaced by a deer buck head mounted on the wall
the deceptive traditionalism of the wall hangings are wiped away and replaced by contagious wood panelling, which by this point in history has so depleted that it means nothing less than death. This signifies that he is in a torture chamber, and is being held captive, there are so many variants of this same trope, the dungeon, that it hardly needs clarification, we are in familiar territory. But, then, the mother becomes the TV set, the generator of his hypnotized hypnagogic TV Set iris vision, now realized in real space, but, tellingly, inside a ritual space and routine magically established and attached to by the things of the grandfather, so it is not a new TV like people have mounted on their walls or mantels today, but an old style 60s color stereo, the kind we used to sit staring straight at, or on the floor, and it tells the story of the cult by way of some creepy old infomercial tape from the 60s or 70s
and it is in this context that we meet and see that in fact the grandfather was such a cult figure in the nature of a modern cultist like L. Ron Hubbard or the like, a stock figure in modern horror; that the son is a nerdy spineless subject, the wife a devoted handmaiden of the cult, and the children, including Rose, utterly brainwashed, all of them, in this picture, perhaps dated too far back in time for an image that could only be coming to us from the late 90s, if Rose is only 25ish, the cult
in this context we also see that the house used to be more normal, and was only spruced up to look plantational by the retrograde actions of the maturing minds of the son and wife
It is in the context of this explanation, the research section as it were of the movie, which is OK, though I would have liked more, that we get the full explanation for the wife’s role as enabler of the cult by having invented a type of hypnosis which not only sends people down the whoosh, to look and see the TV Set iris in the entoptic field of vision far above them, but, then, it is implied that through mad science passed by the grandfather to the dad a technique was developed whereby that hypnotized state could be physicalized as a process where parts were removed from the falling figure and transferred back to the body suspended in the TV Set iris and then the body left behind zombieized but alive to live forever after in a permanent waking dream state of “the sunken place”. This is pretty good stuff
(That said, in my view, the movie does fall down a bit in portraying too ersatzly the surgery and the set up which seems right out of Hammer Frankenstein movies, it doesn’t quite work
but what really interested me here is that in the past generation the evil basement with the rec room has morphed into the luxury mancave (we saw one again on Sunday in a house tour of the Barber House in Lincoln, which, by 1994, after 40 years of frat living, had been reduced to being uninhabitable, but now the basement is all entirely redone as a mancave lined with books and tvs), and what that means is that the cellardweller look that we get in 10 Cloverfield Road or other outings is replaced by luxury and the evil Jeffrey Dahmer taxiderm lair is also upgraded to almost seem like kunstkammer level art, it’s quite a set up
it is rare when we get a good look at the art here as it might profile the drama, and warn us of the troubles. We see that a good number of the pictures are, in the manner of The Shining, cult pictures of group meetings of the great old Anglo American glory days (pre-1950)
at another point, we see that there are ram’s skull lamps, also funerary or morbid in nature
there seems to be some sort of quasi suit of armor-bronze head, with hand on it, just there as a strange object to alert and twist our mind, while the large panel at the end, while it looks like a Duchamp, is actually a large anatomical chart, of age-old use, going way back, good examples in The Gorgon (1966) and the Black Sleep (1956), so it is a fairly typical genre mad scientist lair where all the art is in fact expressive of his bodily impulse to sport with nature and make monsters, that is, dark kunsthammer art
with many forerunners, and a Mary Shelley picture opposite, here is the chart at the end of the hall
if you zero in, you see it is not quite an anatomical chart, though laid out aestheticaly like one, but appears to consist of some knights and ladies holding shields as if at the side audience section of a Van Eyck painting, but painted by Brugel, so, for me, an agentic painting of the German sort, with the purpose of a spell, signifying a dark mind
but then, even closer, it focuses as a possible “arma Christi” portrait of Christ armed in armor, the hero of the resurrection, it is in the model of arma christi meditation pictures, usually involving Christ getting scourged (though often abstracted to simply display the instruments of torture, to be meditated upon one by one, to put one in a state), but, somehow, in this version, the Resurrection has been superimposed over it, to show him smiling through it, in armor, like this picture, but in armor
thus, this is, in the end, a cult picture of the activitiy of the cult, the agentic aesthetic of the how-to nature of an anatomical chart translated into a visual allegory to combine with the alibi formations of suits of armor to create an icon in the form of a dark personification of the activity of human sacrifice in the cult, perhaps, daily passing it, it helped dad to think, I’m doing holy work, for the future of mankind
and the fact that the Christ on this shroudy thing looks like
the blind art dealer who gets the eyes of Chris adds to the chill, though no one, except subliminally, actually sees this connection
and then the arma christi element might simply be there to normalize into the weft of the mis en scene the somewhat throwaway Cronenberg vibe of the special instruments they have developed to undertake the surgery, somehow, who knows how, to get the transfer to occur (this too could’ve been better thought out and explained)
finally, coming out to see what’s holding up the son, we see that by the door there is also a large icon portrait of the master of the cult, maybe even the grandfather, like in The Wicker Man
but it is precisely when he poses as the carrier on of the role of the icon in this generation, that he is skewered and killed, by a symbol of his victimizing others as trophies, the buck’s head
in my view a bit too easily, but that’s that
however, this is quite good use of the décor tropes of the basement lair. Taxidermy, of course, means that the master of the house is an exploiter. Everyone and everything is a trophy to him, Chris is a trophy that has been captured, for use now to continue the cult. The movie is quite good in making use of the instruments of horror in a basement lair. The carpet is rendered again as the too contagious surface of a polluted place, the walls all pannelled equals a padded cell, and then on the walls over the tv is the deer buck head trophy, which is the object made use of, the kill. It is a good idea, and possibly the best instrumentation of the deer head since Silent Night, Deadly Night (1985), where, a girl, running in the wood panelling of a country cabin
is lifted up
and skewered on the deer horns.
This reverses that, following the well-worn trope of wall décor objects being taken down and instrumentalized as weapons, it’s quite good. (It also signifies that just as 80s movies often built up horror by moving retrograde over tropes picked up in the 50s movies the directors etc watched when they were kids; it could be assumed that 10’s movies have also gone retrograde out of an impulse by directors now, who grew up in the 80s, to try to rework and redo tropes they first saw in the 80s, so it is the 80s times two (god help us). Then, when he is sure he has killed, he drops it
Nice genre scene shot here, dead body, dropped murder weapon, fire to destroy it all, and a strange allegorical alchemical print of the 17th century maybe which I cant make out but which was only meant to convey the idea that he had an alchemical mad science as well as kunstkammer imagination.
and finally he leaves, but he does so with the movie tossing in one more work. As Chris comes up the stairs, it is required that we, the viewer, so magic-slating away in our impulsive gaze, be instantly reminded that, it’s not over, trouble still lurks over head. We want to acknowledge the holy shit! craziness of what we just saw, but we also want to stay on the alert, because it’s not over. For that, a traffic cop picture is required, to serve as the herm as it were from the deep “sunken place” place, to return from that land of the dead from which he was never meant to return, to come back up, like Mercury opening the door of a Roman tomb on a sarcophagus, for him to be, not resurrected sickly as a surviving zombie from a transplant to advantage another, but to rise up again from an event that was sure to kill him, whole, to live again, and for this turn, this herm, this traffic cop juncture, the movie came up with Salvator Rosa’s Allergy of Fortune, which is not only flatly visually good because it is a bit witchy looking, and may warn us, the witches, mother and daugher are upstairs, but at the same time it spells out all the objects that were brought into play for him to get out, and expresses visual amazement in a momentary aha of excitement that he is still there
since the picture is not in any way dwelt on, or instrumentalized, but seen just in passing I think it would be giving it too much credit to delve into the background of what it actually means as a work of art and then apply that to the movie (apparently it was interpreted as a negative allegory of papal power, and almost got Rosa excommunicated and arrested, so it may have a protest vibe)
it might be Peele’s thesis picture, spelling out his overall purpose in writing this movie as he did, which definitely has a lot of double-edged swords, as I have pointed out, but it is there on screen for one second
still the fact that that dark thing is looked at every day by the cult members going about their witchcraft and human sacrifice is a strong indicator of how sick they are, generally
and then he escapes, though the strange thing about the breakout is that he plays the role of the Black Man home invader/intruder which is such a trope of terror movies about suburban neighborhoods, he just kills and kills and moves on, it is mayhem
overall, however, Get Out (2017) does a nice job in modernizing and upping the class level of some of the evergreen horror tropes of mad scientist lairs in basements going way back to The Fly (1958) and beyond, and in evil surgeries designed to sacrifice one human being so that another can live. In truth, for all of its explicit attention, because of the issue of race, the movie is, like many of the Blumhouse movies, not out of keeping with the retrograde-domestic trend of American horror at the moment, it is low keyed, it is domestic, the supernatural is effaced in and under the natural, the extraordinary is hidden in the everyday, and even the evil mad scientist lair is hid in what anyone else coming through on a house tour like the one I took in Lincoln, Near South, on Sunday, would think, pretty normal house, except that his taste in art is rather weird. For all that, through the instrumentation of the tropes and pictures of the secret sunken place, Get Out is pretty darn good.
Overall, then, as spelled out in this impromptu review of Get Out (2017), it has very solid strengths, but perhaps the most convincing proof of how well it embedded evergreen tropes into a domestic drama orientation for most audiences to attend it as that, but then have to deal with its darker side, its aspect as a horror movie, and not a social commentary movie, not even mentioned by reviews I read in the New York Times or The Guardian, is that most people simply do not pick up the clever and clearly informed use of the tropes, their swell instrumentation, and the making, below the racial hype, of a classicly made, beautifully worked out, evil cult Anglos seeking eternal life human sacrifice horror movie.