‘Get In’ – When A Critic Needs to Be A Detective
During the Lockdown I’ve been catching up on films I’ve been meaning to see, and have been transported by trash and Palme D’Or winners alike. I’ll happily overlook a film’s technical inadequacies if there’s a germ of originality.
Often there isn’t. Hollywood has too much at stake to upset its audiences, so I look for more daring fare elsewhere. The Lighthouse, Climax, Funny Games, The Long Day Closes, Irreversible, Into The Void, Midsommar, Time of the Wolf and Mother! constitute the more acceptable arthouse end of ‘endurance test’ movies but I’ll just as happily head to the bottom of the Netflix bargain bin.
Which is how ‘Get In’ caught my eye. The title is a desperate attempt to link to the smash hit ‘Get Out’ by the fact that it stars a black male lead. Its French title was ‘Furie’, which is also the title of a very good Vietnamese action film that gets reviewed in its place. Bad retitles doom films; when ‘The Witches of Zagguramurdi’ became ‘Witchin’ & Bitchin’ and ‘The Hidden Face’ became ‘The Bunker’ both of these terrific films confused English-speaking audiences.
I ran a review search on ‘Get In’ and found nothing except a bile-filled review from a site called Common Sense Media, which clearly pays big bucks to stay near the top of the Google search engine and feels creepily evangelist-funded.
‘Get In’ comes over as a psychological B-horror reminiscent of Straw Dogs. It could have been called ‘Man Up’. Paul, a mild-mannered history teacher, returns from holiday with his family in their camper van late at night and find themselves locked out of their own house by squatters. When Paul calls the police they first arrest him – surprise – for standing around while black. It transpires that the white squatters have rights.
This is a hot-button topic in Europe. Friends of mine in Barcelona have been prevented from removing illegal squatters from their flat for the past three years; such scams have become a highly profitable business, with squatters’ rights pre-sold overseas. Paul moves to a campsite while the toothless lawyers squabble and delay, caught in France’s byzantine court system. The effect on Paul’s already shaky marriage is disastrous.
Urged to get tough by the campsite manager, Paul is blooded in a night of male rituals involving booze, pills, girls and hunting. This firelit scene reminded me of the bloodcurdling kangaroo hunt in Wake in Fright, a film the Australian PM banned for presenting his country in a bad light.
Will Paul now be fired up enough to take back his house and reclaim his ailing manhood? Will he put his theoretical teaching into practice? Well, there’s a twist to that. Suffice it to say that things do not go as planned. A final scene that plays under the credits appears to switch the film to a far more reactionary track.
So, just another another thick-ear B movie. But something felt off, so I did some checking and several anomalies surfaced.
‘Wake in Fright’ is now regarded as a classic but flopped everywhere except in France, where it proved popular and influential.
The film’s night visuals and soundscapes conjure the Paris riots and are too sophisticated for a mere B-horror. In particular, the soundtrack features the Peter Cat Recording Co., a boho outfit that suggests a strong guiding intelligence. The typeface used for the ‘Get In’ intertitles is similar to the ones used by provocateur director Gasper Nöe.
The director Olivier Abbou made the similarly themed ‘Territories’, deliberately referencing Guantanamo Bay.
The scene playing under ‘Get In’s end credits seems a remarkable mis-step for a film so carefully constructed. A second look suggests that its intention is the opposite of its surface appearance. It is is a deliberate provocation, a corrective smack to the liberal mindset.
‘The Hunt’, a politicised reworking of ‘The Most Dangerous Game’, caused outrage in the US (with Trump tweeting against it) even though it’s nowhere near as smart. The ending of ‘Get In’ is as violent as you’d expect, although not as much as, say, the Purge films, and its refusal to simplify its female lead’s sexuality seems to have confused the online reviewers. They need to see more European movies. ‘Get In’ is on Netflix now.