Film history is full of movies that critiqued American society. But in the 21st century, few landed with the impact of Get Out. Its severe yet comedic critique of the Black experience in the United States entertained as much as it discomforted.
This is our essential explanation of Get Out. What follows are the vital details studied, analyzed, deconstructed, dissected, unraveled, and presented for your review. What happened? Why it happened? Let’s get some answers.
If you’d like to watch more movies like Get Out, then be sure to check out our recommendations.
Why it’s called Get Out
The title is a little less simplistic than it may initially seem. Of course, you have the straightforward interpretation. Get out. Leave. Depart. Run away. Escape while you can. We see this in action when Andre Hayworth (Lakeith Stanfield) interrupts the Armitage’s party to desperately tell Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) to “Get out.” What Andre meant makes sense, especially once you’ve finished the movie. “Leave, before the family can steal your body the way they stole mine.”
There is, however, another layer to the title. We know the Coagula cult steals the bodies of Black people and transfers into them the consciousness of their White members. Another mind has literally invaded someone’s body. So the idea of telling someone to “get out” goes beyond just “Hey, leave the party before these crazy White people do something awful to you.” We see multiple characters who have been invaded—Andre, Georgina (Betty Gabriel), Walter (Marcus Henderson)—and all show moments of pain and fear and that emotional plea of “get this invader out of my body.”
You can extrapolate even further by looking at the Coagula procedure as an allegory for cultural appropriation. There’s been much conversation about the ways in which White America appropriates non-White culture. Especially Black culture. From language to art to style and food and you name it. The list goes on and on. The phrase “blackfishing” had to be invented. We see this in the movie. The Coagula members all covet aspects of the Black body. Jim Hudson (Stephen Root) straight up says to Chris, “I want your eye.” So you can hear the title as a statement to White America to stop its pillaging of Black culture.
Overall, though, it’s just a solid title for a horror movie. It lets the viewer know what to expect. The film draws plenty of comparisons to the work of master thriller Alfred Hitchock. Just look at the titles of some Hitchcock movies: Psycho, Rear Window, Vertigo, The Birds, The Lady Vanishes, Strangers on a Train. They all give you a pretty good idea of what the situation is. Crazy person. Looking at stuff. Dizziness. Avians. A missing woman. A meeting between unfamiliars aboard a locomotive. Get Out has you expecting someone stuck in a situation they want to remove themselves from. And that’s exactly what we see. The fact there’s an even deeper thematic meaning is just a nice bonus.
The ending of Get Out explained
The end of Get Out is similar to the title in that it can seem pretty straightforward but there’s a little more depth. For example, there’s nothing ambiguous or confusing about Chris escaping the house, taking out the Armitage family, having a final confrontation with Rose (Allison Williams), then leaving with Rod. There isn’t some confounding symbolism like in Mulholland Drive. Or a question of what was real or wasn’t real like in Perfect Blue.
Some people might wonder why Walter turned the rifle on Rose. But that’s easily explainable as the flash from Chris’s phone temporarily turned off the hypnosis. So Roman Armitage lost possession of Walter’s body long enough for Walter to resurface from the sunken place and turned the rifle on Rose then himself. It’s the same mechanism we saw earlier when the flash woke Andre Hayworth and he yelled “Get out” at Chris.
The more ambiguous moment is Rose’s smile when Chris chokes her. You’d think the reaction would be to fight or fear. Instead, she smiles. An arrogant, haunting, defiant smile. It’s psychotic. Which is Rose through and through. Once she stops acting like Chris’s girlfriend and is herself, you see just how sociopathic she is. The cherry on top being when we see her surfing the internet for the next Black man she’ll date to kidnap and she’s eating cereal and milk separately. It’s a simple thing that creeps so many people out when they watch Get Out for the first time. So her smiling while Chris chokes her is just…so Rose.
I could throw out theories. Like, “Rose’s smile represents the arrogance of White America. She wants Chris to choke her because it plays into White fearmongering. She has made Chris into a stereotype other bad-faith racists can point to. She becomes a martyr. He becomes a monster. Except Chris let’s go. He won’t play her game. He’s done letting White people provoke him into being something he’s not.” That is a reading. One of, I’m sure, many. I can imagine scholars and wannabe scholars alike going wild with a moment like this and applying all kinds of socio-political interpretations. And there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s what great art allows us to do. But…
Get Out is one of those movies where Jordan Peele clearly intended for people to theorize and interpret. But it’s easy for people to over-interpret. There’s a Vanity Fair video where Peele reacts to Reddit fan theories that perfectly demonstrates this. The first theory is someone suggesting the entire movie is “an imagined scenario of Rod the TSA agent.” It’s just Rod’s conspiracy theory about what will happen when Chris visit’s Rose’s family but doesn’t actually happen. Peele flat out denies that theory.
The second theory is that “When all the guests arrive [to the Armitage party], the groundskeeper and Georgina greet them out of their cars. Rarely would a housekeeper greet guests but because they are the [Armitage] grandparents, it’s their party…” Peele’s reaction to this theory? “Absolutely.”
The third theory: the song Jeremy plays on the ukulele was a gigue by Bach and it’s played slower than normal and was “inferior” and symbolized the “gigue was up.” Peele is, of course, dumbfounded by this and says that he told Jeremy’s actor to just “play anything.” There was no deep meaning there. Throughout the video you hear him confirm very clever details while rejecting the more outrageous thematic interpretations.
So when it comes to Rose and assigning a deeper meaning to her smile…I hesitate. I write novels. I write short stories. I’ve studied storytelling for 20 years. And this reads to me like one of those moments where you, as the writer, say to yourself, “Just choking someone is pretty generic. What’s a way we can elevate the moment? Let’s have the person who should be fighting for their life…smile. Yeah, that’s creepy. And she’s super creepy in general. It’s perfect.” So it’s more about creating a moment and less about saying something. You’ll let the reader find what it means to them rather than telling them something specific.
And it makes sense Chris would let go because Chris is, at his core, a good guy. This isn’t what he wanted. None of what happened is what he wanted. And, sure, he probably doesn’t want to give Rose the satisfaction. “She likes this? Then nevermind.” Plus, she already took critical damage from Walter. Chris doesn’t have to end her. The end is nigh.
The last question people might have about the end is what happens to Chris? Does he get away with it or not? Because, on the one hand, you have to imagine Rose and the family kept a low profile. She had brought, it seemed, like a dozen or more guys over and no one was the wiser. So if police weren’t connecting her to these disappeared people and coming to find her, you’d expect the inverse would also be true. Police won’t connect her to Chris and come find him. There’s no real evidence he was there. House burned down. The Armitages are gone. Maybe some of the Coagula cult would tip authorities off. But then maybe Chris exposes Coagula? What I’m trying to say is, there’s a world in which he gets away and moves on with his life.
The alternative ending
There is an alternative ending that went a different way. Chris doesn’t let go of Rose. And it’s not Rod who shows up but actual police officers. They tackle Chris. We cut to Chris in an orange suit in prison. Rod visiting him. And Rod’s talking about fighting the charges but Chris says he’s good. “I stopped it. You know? I stopped it.” Then hangs up and heads back into the depths of the prison. The last shot is Chris and a guard down a hallway while a door slides shut behind them.
This is a much heavier ending. Chris doesn’t have his moment of moral victory over Rose. He goes to jail. And the barred jail door closing gives quite a new meaning to the title Get Out. It’s pretty much the worst possible outcome. In the original, you can hope he goes on to have a good life. In this alternative ending, there’s no hope. It’s a much bleaker commentary on America and the Black experience in America. It’s a powerful statement. But it is a question of what do you want to leave the viewer with? And it seems Peele preferred to give people some hope. You hope there’s a world where things end up okay even if it’s ugly getting there.
The deeper meaning of the end of Get Out
Much of Get Out intentionally focuses the viewer on racial elements. So any interpretations of what’s happening and why have to discuss race and America and appropriation. That’s important. But the emphasis on such powerful topics makes it easy to overlook some of what else is going on.
Multiple moments of the film focus on the trauma Chris carries around his mom’s death. He was a child, home alone, and knew something was wrong when his mom wasn’t home at the usual time. Instead of doing anything, he just watched TV. For hours. When someone finally found his mom, she had passed. The twist is that it was a hit-and-run and that Chris’s mom was alive for hours on the side of the road. If someone had been looking for her, if they had found her, she could have lived. Chris puts that on himself. If only he had called someone. The cops. A family member. A family friend. Anyone. Maybe his mom would still be there.
This is why he’s so enamored with the deer Rose hits on the way up to visit her parents. It’s not just a doe on the side of the road. He’s thinking about his mom. What it must have been like for her. When Missy first hypnotizes him, she confronts him about his mom’s death. His response? “I don’t want to think about that.” Later, when he and Rose have their last happy moment, sitting by the lake, he tells her the full story about his mom, about his own inaction and how guilty he feels. It’s this lovely thing. Rose holds Chris. They both cry. He tells her “You’re all I got…I’m not going to abandon you.” He says I love you. She says I love you. Their relationship has hit an entirely new level. A few minutes later, she betrays him.
That scene creates a bit of a connection between Rose and Chris’s mom. He said it himself. He didn’t do anything to save his mom. There was time but he just watched TV. In the present, Chris was about to flee the house and leave Rose with her family. But he won’t abandon her. The implication being that he won’t lose another person he loves due to his own inaction. He’s going to fight for Rose in a way he didn’t fight for his mom. That’s what makes her betrayal all the more painful. It’s brilliant, from a storytelling perspective. Because it’s just reinforces what a nasty person Rose is. To listen to all of that. To convince him he can be that vulnerable with her. That he’s loved enough to be that vulnerable. Only to reveal none of it meant anything to her. Yeesh.
And that brings us to the end. When Chris first tries to flee the house in Jeremy’s car, Georgina stands in his way. He actually hits her with the car. And he has this moment where he has to decide if he just drives away, saving himself, or if he takes the time to help a wounded Georgina. It’s quite literally the situation with his mom. Except this time he’s the driver. And he can’t bring himself to just leave. So he does what he wished he would have done as a kid. He rescues Georgina. Except Georgina is really Marianne Armitage, Granny Armitage, and wakes up and attacks Chris. They wreck and it’s fatal for Georgina.
But the important thing is that we’ve already established that this final sequence has echoes of Chris’s situation with his mom. First it’s Georgina. Then it’s Rose. She wasn’t involved in a hit and run, but she is mortally wounded on a road. The same road (I imagine) where she hit the deer. Which is another callback, right? The deer reminded Chris of his mom. Georgina reminded him of his mom. Now Rose reminds us of the deer, Georgina, and, thus, Chris’s mom. This was the woman Chris was ready to commit to. She wasn’t his new mom or anything like that. But a future wife. Maybe even, he thought, the mother of his children. There’s a tangential connection. Rose ends up suffering a similar fate to Chris’s mom. She’s wounded. Maybe could live if given immediate medical attention. But no one will find her until it’s too late.
So all of what I just wrote was simply to establish that this connection exists. I know I just said in the last section that people often over-interpret Get Out. And that’s true. But that’s not what’s happening here. Peele clearly wanted what happened to Chris’s mom to be more than simple backstory. If it was only backstory, it would be mentioned once and never brought up again. Instead, it’s something that’s mentioned, contextualized, developed, revealed, then, ultimately, recreated. That’s not a happy coincidence. You don’t have the hit deer simultaneously foreshadow the conclusion with Rose and echo what happened to Chris’s mom without hoping viewers to recognize that. Peele could have picked any backstory. Chris’s mom could have been struck by lightning. Stung by bees. Lost at sea. She could have fallen into a well and kid Chris ignore Lassie barking at him about it. But instead he picked a traffic accident and left on the side of the road.
So if we’ve established this is a thing…what’s it mean? That’s where it’s easy to fall into over-interpretations. There’s an argument to be made that there’s a degree of catharsis for Chris. Like by trying to save Georgina. By letting go of Rose. He’s found some kind of closure with the whole thing? Maybe. That’s usually what a writer intends when they have a character face a recreation of a situation that haunts them. The Storytelling 101 version of this would be a story starts with a kid in a spelling bee but stage fright prevents them from saying anything and the crowd laughs the kid off stage. Kid is embarrassed by this but a series of events happen that challenge them and they mature and grow and discover a mountain of confidence. It ends with the kid back on stage and there’s that first moment where they’re called on and standing in front of everyone and you worry it will happen again, the kid will freeze and everyone will laugh. But the kid talks! They spell. And they keep spelling all the way to the championship!
But does it really seem like Chris gets closure from all of this? If anything, you kind of wonder if he’ll just be even more haunted. Couldn’t save his mom. Couldn’t save Georgina. Walter. Andre. Rose. Back to our example, it would be like if instead of winning the championship, our little speller just froze for a second time. All of the previous training and growth and development ended up for naught. They freeze. Everyone laughs. And the kid is broken forever by their failure.
I don’t think it’s a problem that I don’t have an answer to this. As I said earlier, part of being a great storyteller is knowing when to leave things open to interpretation. Sometimes there is a very specific point (like in Fight Club). Other times, what’s there is meant to have the audience come to their own conclusion. I call this the “half-glass” technique, in reference to the classic psychology question of asking someone “Is this glass half empty or half full?” The thinking is that pessimists will say it’s half empty and optimists say half full. What the glass actually is isn’t important. What’s important is the answer.
And I think that’s the best way to look at the end of Get Out. It’s asking you what do you want to happen to Chris? Do you want him to find closure and get away scott free and everything is great? Or does it make more sense to you that he’s haunted by this for the rest of his life? Or that he’s arrested and the promise of his life stolen, even though he survived? And what’s it say about you that you think what you think? What’s it say about your views on America? About your views on racism in America? Your views on Whiteness and Blackness?
That’s the power of Get Out. It forces us to have conversation. Whether out loud or just with ourselves. And that’s awesome.
The timeline of events in Get Out
- Roman Armitage is born in the early 1900s
- In the 1930s, Roman is a sprinter who reaches the qualifiers for the 1936 Olympics but loses to Jesse Owens. Owens goes on to win four gold medals. Note: this Olympics took place in Germany with Hitler in attendance.
- The loss breaks Roman. He associates his failure to inferior genetics and Owens victory to superior genetics. He begins to obsess over Jesse Owens, to the point of wanting to be Jesse Owens.
- Roman founds the Order of the Coagula. It’s a niche secret society dedicated to perfecting mind-body transplantation. He wants to leave his own body to become more like Jesse Owens. Literally and figuratively. Ultimately, he wants to run a faster time than Owens.
- The Order spends decades attempting to develop this technology. The implication being they’d been kidnapping Black people this whole time.
- At some point, Roman marries Marianne and the two have Dean. They bring Dean into the Order. He studies neuroscience and becomes a brain surgeon.
- Dean marries Missy, a psychiatrist, and brings her into the Order.
- Dean and Missy combine their understanding of the human mind and perfect the transplantation procedure.
- At some point, Dean and Missy have two kids, Rose and Jeremy. Both join the Order. Rose is the bait to lure subjects to the Armitage estate. Jeremy prepares to take over for Dean as lead surgeon.
- With the procedure perfected, Rose dates a Black woman and eventually brings her to meet the family. Missy hypnotizes her. Dean transplants part of Marianne’s brain into her brain. And Georgina is “born.” They repeat this same process with Walter. Thus Marianne and Roman become the first recipients of the Coagula procedure.
- The family begins to offer this procedure to other members of the Order. Though we’re never told how many successful transactions there have been.
- Eventually, Rose begins to date Chris.
- In January of 2016, Jeremy, wearing a mask, abducts Andre Hayworth.
- The family proceeds to Coagula Andre, turning him into Logan King.
- The Order of the Coagula decide to hold their next auction. Based on information gathered by Rose, Dean and Missy inform Order members about Chris. Including that he’s a photographer.
- Rose convinces Chris to meet her parents.
- The events of the movie play out.
Was Rose hypnotized
While the idea of Rose being hypnotized is an interesting one, I don’t think it’s true. The point of the movie is to explore White appropriation of Black culture. If Rose were also a victim of her family, a daughter hypnotized by her family and turned into a honeypotting monster…it takes away from the main focus. We’re supposed to think “See, she’s cool. She’s not like her racist family.” The revelation Rose is just as messed up as everyone else in Coagula is supposed to shatter the trust the viewer has for Rose. We get that same shock that Chris does. And even the doubt.
You know part of Chris has to be wondering the same thing. When he’s down in the Armitage game room, strapped to that chair, he had to have considered maybe Rose really was hypnotized and what they had was real. But she shows absolutely no signs of regret, remorse, forgetfulness, hesitation. There isn’t a moment where she tries to tell Chris something but gags the way Chris would if he tried to smoke after Missy’s hypnosis.
But. You could argue that growing up with parents and grandparents who were so racist is a form of hypnosis. That Rose and Jeremy were essentially brainwashed into becoming what they are. The same way any child growing up in a cult may have their perspective warped. So it’s like…Rose became this twisted person because of her family. But she was in control of her own actions the entire time. And Chris knew that by the time he was on that road with her, fighting for his life.
I’d say that’s pretty true for the entire Armitage family. I don’t think any of them were hypnotized, aside from Walter and Georgina.
How does Chris get cotton in his ears?
This is one of those subtle moments that’s simple but satisfying. Chris is tied up in the Armitage basement, right? In the game room. When we first see him, he’s unconscious in this nice brown leather chair. After a few seconds, he wakes up, terrified and confused. It’s easy to miss, but when Chris was asleep, his hands were moving. The fingers clawed at the chair’s leather. And we kind of know why. We saw what it was like being in the sunken place. The falling. How Chris keeps reaching up at the “movie screen” of what his body’s seeing. So his clawing at the chair coincides with his consciousness attempting to claw its way back to the surface.
Right after Chris realizes what’s going on, he scans the room then tries freeing his hands. He can’t pull them out of the straps. So he leans all the way forward and bites at the straps. But they’re too strong and he gives up. Upon first viewing, you’re probably only looking at that moment as conveying the information that Chris can’t get out. Which is part of what Peele wants you to know. But it’s actually telling you that Chris has the range of motion to bring his face all the way to his hands.
After the first Coagula video where Roman explains the procedure to Chris, the tea cup appears on screen and Chris goes right back to the sunken place. When he wakes up next, the TV turns on again and Jim Hudson is there, in pre-op, and tells Chris more about what’s happening and why then leaves. Chris seems defeated. But then he sees the arm of the chair. His sunken-place clawing has pulled open the leather. The cotton padding sticks through. Peele essentially repeats the same shot as Chris biting at the strap. Chris leanes close to his hand to get a better look at the cotton. Even though you don’t see Chris touch his ear with his hand, Peele gave us two shots that let us know Chris could. Which allows him to skip over showing Chris actually put the cotton in his ear and use it as a surprise.
If you have any further questions, leave a comment and we’ll add them to the article!