Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Get Out showed how much better horror is with a great protagonist

To watch a modern horror movie is often to watch all the most interesting characters get killed while the boring, blank-slate protagonist goes on to save the day. If there’s one curiosity to so much of modern horror, it’s the tendency to try and connect with audiences by subbing out perspective and personality for marketability and inoffensiveness.


That’s not how this shit works. It’s why nobody remembers the people Jason Voorhees kills, or the people Jigsaw sort of kills. And while a horror flick’s villains should become iconic, the best ones are those with a compelling character at its center. But you can’t create a compelling character without giving us one with a clear perspective.

That’s why Let The Right One In works so well. Or The Babadook. Or, as the above video essay outlines, Get Out. Lessons From The Screenplay’s latest delves into the ways that Get Out’s Chris, by virtue of being a minority with understandable anxieties about meeting his white girlfriend’s family in a white community, can’t help but navigate the traditional horror journey in new, unexpected ways.

An early scene that finds Chris being hassled by a white cop, for example, distinguishes Get Out as a film that can’t be resolved by the arrival of the authorities, as they’ve already been established as untrustworthy, which is unique to the protagonist and no one else in the film. This also extends to the “wokeness” of its characters; for a black character, this can initially function as a means of building trust, but, as the film shows, it can also work to mask something even darker.

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.