Director: Jordan Peele
Writer: Jordan Peele
Cast: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex, Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker
Release date: March 22, 2019
Well that was something.
Us is the second film from director Jordan Peele. The premise is a family of four goes on vacation, only to have their home invaded by a family of doppelgangers. There is a lot more to it than that, but Us is a film that is best viewed with as little information as possible going in. The description of the premise hides so much of what actually happens in the film, and that Us is easily one of the most creative, disturbing and memorable horror films in recent years. I should fully disclose that I have not seen all of Get Out, so I can only compare the two so much.
Us is a film with a lot of layers, symbolism, and subtext underneath its surface details. Looking back on the film, it becomes more apparent on what was foreshadowed and how carefully constructed everything was to make every plot point and twist work in the long run. It’s a film that I will probably watch sometime again in the future, just so that I can see what details I missed on the first watch. It’s a film with things to say about society, much like Get Out did. Us handles the issue of class oppression, using the doppelgangers who live underground as metaphors for the lower classes who live deprived of things those above them have, and the doppelgangers eventually rise above to take what they want.
The cast members give outstanding performances, having to play two roles at once. Lupita Nyong’o plays the role of protective and frightened mother, as well as murderous and envious psycho. Despite both characters usually being on screen at the same time, Nyong’o disappears into both, with tense and memorable interactions. The only performance I found to be a weak link was Winston Duke’s. He does a great job as the goofy dad, but the character himself could be somewhat annoying. The kids all do a good job as well.
Us’s tone is mixture of comedy and serious horror. It does a stupendous job of balancing both, though not completely as seen with Winston Duke’s character. When it’s not scaring you, it’s throwing in a moment of comedic relief to keep the audience from choking on its own terror. It’s both genuinely scary and funny. Sometimes the fact it’s funny makes the scares even worse.
For scares, Us eschews jump scares and clichés in favor of creativity and atmosphere. Nyong’o’s doppelganger character is extremely creepy, but has a tragic backstory that makes it easy to see why she’s doing what she’s doing. That makes her actions even more scary. Much of the horror in Us comes from its uncomfortable atmosphere, aided by a very effective score.
While it can sometimes be too on the nose, Us is a remarkable horror film with brains. Every element works to form one of the most original movies of the year. Definitely worth a watch.