Audience to Allies:

Shared Terror and Cinematic Dread in Peele's Get Out (2017)


  • Amy St. Amand MacEwan University


For his first feature film, Jordan Peele wanted to create a horror film for black audiences, who have long been isolated by the tradition of objectification and othering of black bodies within the horror genre. Get Out (2017) highlights the paranoia that defines being black in America, but despite the film’s focus on the black American experience, Peele intended for the film to be an inclusive experience. And judging by the film’s financial and critical success, Get Out certainly resonated with a wide variety of audiences. This paper aims to explore how Peele manages to create a space of terror regarding something white viewers have never experienced firsthand, while simultaneously uncovering the purpose of involving an audience who oftentimes are the perpetrators of the microaggressions Get Out condemns. Using Julian Hanich’s theory of cinematic dread, I will argue that Peele creates a sense of shared terror that transcends racial boundaries, ultimately forcing audience members who have never experienced discrimination based on the colour of their skin into allies.

Department: English

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Mike Perschon