“Get Out” has emerged as one of the biggest contenders so far this awards season, earning prizes from the Gotham Awards, the National Board of Review, the New York Film Critics Circle, and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Jordan Peele’s directorial debut may have come out all the way back in February, but it’s become the kind of classic that stays with critics and awards voters long after the credits roll.
The film’s Blu-ray and DVD releases include Peele’s director’s commentary, which reveals some pretty specific film references many viewers probably never noticed. Peele has referred to “Get Out” numerous times as “‘The Stepford Wives’ meets ‘The Help,'” but those are only two of the movie’s many sources of inspiration.
Film School Rejects recently broke down dozens of highlights from Peele’s “Get Out” commentary, including a handful of instances where Peele admits to using such horror touchstones as “The Shining” and “Halloween” as the foundations for certain lines and scenes. The following 10 nods are so subtle that we’re willing to bet you missed them.
1. “Get Out” begins with the murder of Andre (Lakeith Stanfield) in an idyllic white suburban neighbor. “The Shining” is the most referenced film in “Get Out,” according to Peele, and the first allusion arrives when Andre refers to being lost in the suburbs by saying, “It’s like a fucking hedge maze out here.” The hedge maze is where the climax of Kubrick’s film takes place.
2. Peele says writing the opening scene of “Get Out” started with his love for John Carpenter’s “Halloween.” His intention was to begin his movie with a scene that subverted “the perfect white neighborhood.”
3. The opening scene grows tense as Andre is followed by a white Porsche. The color of the car is very intentional, of course, and Peele says the image of a car stalking Andre was meant to evoke such horror classics as Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws” and John Carpenter’s “Christine.”
4. The second reference to “The Shining” arrives when the title “Get Out” appears on screen. The light blue color used for the text is the same as the color Stanley Kubrick used for “The Shining” opening credits font. Both titles appear over landscapes that primarily feature trees as well. “I totally ganked that,” Peele says.
5. “The Shining” is referenced a third time when Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) is taken on a tour of the Armitage home by patriarch Dean (Bradley Whitford). Peele wanted to follow in Kubrick’s footsteps by presenting a scene in which the entire setting is laid out for the viewer to see. In “The Shining,” the Torrance family is taken on a tour of The Overlook Hotel early on. According to Peele, “It just helps with tension, it helps with the terror, and you’re sort of imagining…what context are we gonna see this house in later.”
6. The house tour is disrupted when Dean and Chris stumble upon the maid Georgina (Betty Gabriel) calmly waiting in the kitchen. Peele was trying to evoke both the “The Shining” twins and Hannibal Lecter from “The Silence of the Lambs” in this moment in the way Georgina unexpectedly appears and presents herself with such a menacing calm. “Just the whole vibe of coming up on somebody waiting for you patiently is creepy,” Peele says.
7. One of the most memorable moments of “Get Out” features the groundskeeper Walter (Marcus Henderson) running directly at the camera as we take on Chris’ point of view. The decision to have the character charge directly at the viewer was inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s “North By Northwest.” As Peele explains, “Somebody running at you or towards you just creates a visceral and physical reaction for the audience.”
8. Peele turned to Jonathan Demme’s work on “The Silence of the Lambs” for inspiration on shooting the hypnosis scenes between Chris and Missy (Catharine Keener). Demme’s face-offs between Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lecter, filmed in tight close-ups in which the characters look directly at the camera, informed Peele’s style in these scenes.
9. “The Shining” makes another subversive appearance after Chris is captured by the Armitage family. Peele made a very specific choice to cut from the main action to check in on TSA agent Rob (Lil Rel Howery). Kubrick does something similar when he cuts from the chaos erupting at the Overlook to show what Dick Holleran is up to. Holleran and Rob end up being the saviors of their respective films.
10. The scene in which Chris is forced to watch a pre-recorded video tape that explains the medical procedure in which black men and women are put into white bodies was meant to play like the scene in “The Matrix” where Morpheus tells Neo very directly what the truth really is. Peele also turned to the television series “Lost,” evoking the “ripped” feeling of the Dharma Initiative videos. “You just get this sense [watching them] that oh my god, there’s this produced thing, it goes so deep, we’re just at the tip of the iceberg.”
Head over to Film School Rejects for more highlights from Peele’s “Get Out” director’s commentary.