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In 2017, Get Out made me fall back in love with movie theaters

Finding fun at the movies again

Justin Lubin

Polygon is kicking off its best of entertainment series, which will run through the end of December and beginning of January, coming to a close just before the 2017 Golden Globes. These personal essays will examine the best, most important and weirdest moments that occurred in television, film, streaming and YouTube/Twitch in 2017. Each will examine why the author believes that moment to be one of 2017’s most extraordinary. The series will end with Polygon’s Best of TV and Best of Movies pieces.

The longest relationship of my life has been with movies — and in 2017, Get Out helped me revive it.

I know that sounds ... weird. But my earliest memories include a three-year-old me being asked what I wanted to do when I grew up, and answering emphatically, “Direct movies.” I imagined myself in a towering director’s chair, decked out in classic Hollywood garb and shouting on a film set.

I saw as many movies as my parents and meager allowance let me; I wrote reviews for fun, furiously read message boards for validation of my own thoughts and pored over director’s commentaries. And I held onto those directing hopes for as long as I could, but I learned eventually that I’m a better moviegoer than creator. (My idea that directing is at least 40 percent yelling would help me in later jobs, at least.) I majored in Film Studies, which meant I spent four years of college watching hundreds of masterpieces and weird, experimental things and everything in between.

It was wonderful. But it was also exhausting. What happens when the thing you love to do for fun becomes work? The answer is it’s ... not so much fun anymore. Four years and four hundred-plus movies later, I walked out of college feeling like I’d had my fill of moviegoing for a while. I saw the cracks in everything; I innately analyzed every cut and edit and plot hole. I was insufferable, even more so than I’d already been.

A rainy day in February reminded me of my lost love, however. On a lark, a friend and I decided to go see Get Out, a horror movie that I’d probably never be interested had it not been for the social commentary at its center. (Also, Jordan Peele is a decent sell.) I didn’t know much else about it, other than it was supposed to be amazing and demanded being seen in a theater.

[There are some light spoilers ahead, by the way.]

Justin Lubin

Those critics and viewers were absolutely right. Get Out is searing in its politics, which are remain painfully relevant almost 12 months later; but the film is also pure fun. There’s no tighter film of 2017, with every scene serving a purpose, every character perfectly defined and every cut or music cue creating a perfect amount of tension. Peele plays with the conventions of horror — shrieking strings punctuating characters’ surprise entrances, and slow zoom-outs revealing a villainous plot in the process. (The scene in which we discover that Chris, our hero, is up for auction by his girlfriend’s white parents and their friends continues to shock.)

On that first viewing, I gasped and cowered and laughed out loud in equal measure. Watching Get Out that first time was a visceral experience, and it was made all the better by the huge crowd of people going through the same thing. At the film’s climax, everyone cheered. When the credits rolled, the audience broke out into the most prolonged, enthusiastic round of applause I’d seen at a theater in years.

Obviously it’s hard for me to stop analyzing something completely; it’s just ingrained at this point. But Get Out was such a pure viewing experience that first time that it became an addiction; I wanted to find a movie that moved me like it did, where I could sit in the dark with strangers and experience a shared array of emotions. I wanted to be moved at the end. Mostly, though, I wanted to have fun at the movies again. And I’ve done that repeatedly ever since; in November and December alone, I saw nearly 15 movies. I loved them all.

I’ve since seen Get Out five times, although only twice in the theater. But every time, I’m in love with it, as are the people watching it with me. What seems like such a simple idea — a horror movie satirizing racial politics! So very 2017! — becomes, slowly, an intoxicating viewing experience.

Here’s to 2018 having many, many more Get Outs, because I can’t stop myself from going to the movies anymore in search of them.

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