Daniel Kaluuya as Chris in Get Out. Image: Universal Pictures

The most effective horror movies offer a balanced mixture of gore, frights, and sly social commentary—and Get Out, a hit with both critics and audiences, does this better than most. But as director Jordan Peele explains, the movie’s crowd-pleasing ending wasn’t always what he had in mind for his film’s final act.

Appearing on the Another Round podcast earlier this week, Peele was asked about Get Out’s alternate endings. If you’ve seen the movie, you know that the main character, Chris, manages to escape the racist clutches of his mind-and-body swapping captors after a hard-earned violent rampage and the perfectly-timed appearance of his best friend, Rod (LilRel Howery).

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However, Peele confirms that several much bleaker endings were originally considered, including ones in which Chris would be arrested for mass murder or even gunned down on the spot by the local police. The reason he ultimately decided against going in that direction: timing—and the changing level of awareness of the American public. See, he first got the idea for the film several years ago. Obama had just taken office, and Peele got the sense that some people thought that meant racism was “over.” A doom-filled final act would be a reminder, he says, that “You think race isn’t an issue? Well, at the end, we all know this is how this movie would end. The fact that that rings true is the point of the film.”

But by the time Get Out began filming, Peele says, well-publicized tragedies like the Trayvon Martin case had already underlined the fact that racism is still very much a problem in America. “It was very clear that the ending needed to transform into something that gives us a hero, that gives us an escape, gives us a positive feeling when we end this movie ... there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing the audience go crazy when Rod shows up.”

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He’s right. Get Out is now playing in theaters everywhere.

[Screencrush]