There are some films which divide people, and others which bring people together. New release Get Out falls into the former category, for reasons which will shock and surprise you.
There’s not much I can say about this film that hasn’t been said already. One end of the spectrum have labelled it groundbreaking, and the other end say it’s overly racist. It’s controversial, you get the picture. However, one aspect of the film which I don’t think’s been given enough attention is the soundtrack.
Let’s be honest, no horror film can succeed without the right score, be it roaring violins or a couple of sharp stabs on the piano. And as a movie of the horror genre (if not, with some satire thrown in), Get Out is no exception to that rule. Does it work in terms of music? Most certainly.
I knew this film was going to be creepy from the get-go. Take the opening song, Sikiliza Kwa Wahenga, which has an altogether voodoo feel about it. Vodooo meaning eerie African vocals and guitar strings. Sikiliza Kwa Wahenga, in case you’re wondering, means “listen to your ancestors” in Swahili. In other words, follow your gut instinct and don’t be naive. Juxtaposed as the song is against a drive through the forest, it calls to mind a spooky drift into the unknown.
Chris & Rose, otherwise known as the Love Theme, has a similar tone of mysticism about it, which seems to carry for most of the film.
What’s most refreshing about the soundtrack is how utterly old fashioned sounding it is. I’ve come to love the delicate harps, screechy fiddles and big drum hits you get in a Hitchcockian thriller, and those very same arrangements can be found in Get Out.
Case in point, The Auction. By virtue of its ticking clock it makes a sinister scene infinitely more unsettling on the ear. Roman Polanksi’s Repulsion incorporates a similar ticking in its closing moments.
Brass heavy Photographs is equally disquieting, as too are The Sunken Place, Teacup TV and Surgery Prep. Not only does the score gather momentum at the same speed as the story, but the two work harmonisly together. As a result, you get this gradual build of tension which leaves you clinging to your chair in anticipation. Also featured in the movie are Childish Gambino’s smash hit, Redbone, and the satirically misplaced, Run Rabbit Run by Flanengan & Allen.
Michael Abels, the film’s composer, has openly stated his intention to achieve a Hitchcockian feel to the score, and does so expectionally well in my opinion. Working closely with the film’s director, Jordan Peele, he recalls the great attention to detail which went into making everything from the hypnosis music, to the baroque concerto accompanying the garden party scene. When asked about the ghostly voices used in his orchesteral pieces, he claimed that they’re representative of African souls, displaced by slavery and social injustice. Make of that what you will.
Acknowledged for its soundtrack, and only it’s soundtrack, Get Out is an accomplished horror/thriller film of the most classic kind.