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(Credit: Universal Pictures)

Film

Jordan Peele on the two movies that influenced 'Get Out'

@Russellisation

Almost single-handedly, the comedian-turned-filmmaker, Jordan Peele, has transformed the appeal of the horror genre, breaking the barrier between mainstream and independent cinema with the release of his 2017 movie, Get Out. Striking a chord with audiences immediately upon its release, Peele has been considered an innovative, pertinent filmmaker capable of subverting expectations and providing consistently entertaining pieces of cinema. 

Peele followed his award-winning thriller two years later with the complex social drama Us, starring Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Tim Heidecker, telling the story of a family being haunted by strange doppelgangers. Ever since, the filmmaker has been working to improve the landscape of contemporary horror, acting as the executive producer of the modern series of The Twilight Zone as well as helping to bring Nia DaCosta’s remake of Candyman to the big screen. 

Despite his many successes since, Get Out remains the filmmaker’s jewel, with audiences still enthralled by its social commentary and its importance in the genre’s history. 

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Taking many years to put together, Peele was influenced by his love of horror in the creation of Get Out, revealing in a UCLA ‘script to screen’ interview the two films that influenced the film more than any others. “The big ones were Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives among others,” Peele noted, choosing both films partly due to the writing of Ira Levin, who penned both original novels. 

Calling the author a “really brilliant novelist,” Peele praises the writer for “his technique of inching us towards this inevitable horrific reveal but not moving so fast that you don’t understand why the lead character is staying in the scene”.  

For this need for a steady, tense narrative, Peele looked to Rosemary’s Baby, directed by Roman Polanski, and The Stepford Wives by Bryan Forbes, with Peele requiring a similar vibe for Get Out

“This whole movie was made to address the black need for characters in horror movies to do the right thing to avoid danger,” the filmmaker further explained, noting that, to achieve this, he needed the character’s actions to “pass the African-American smell test”. In this, he realised that Ira Levin built in a subtle horror to his stories, ever-so-slightly cranking up the tension moment by moment, “so subtly that the main character couldn’t quite tell if something really dark and horrendous was happening or if this was just garden variety average social weirdness”. 

Undoubtedly Jordan Peele achieved this aim, and with two critically and commercially successful films under his belt, he hopes his latest project, Nope, will do the same. Starring Daniel Kaluuya, Steven Yeun, Barbie Ferreira, Keke Palmer, Wrenn Schmidt and Donna Mills, Nope looks to be a strange alien sci-fi following a bizarre UFO hovering over an unfortunate town.