Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong'o), her husband Gabe (Winston Duke), her son Jason (Evan Alex) and her daughter Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) head to Santa Cruz, California, for a beach vacation at Adelaide's childhood home with their friends the Tylers. During the day, they begin experiencing unsettling coincidences. At night, the Wilsons are terrorized by a family of twisted doppelganger versions of themselves. Written and directed by Jordan Peele. Elisabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker co-star.~Kaitlin Elise Miller
As above, so below: Grand Pas de Deux
Redefining a Genre: Jordan Peele's brand of horror
This review was written just after this film was released in theaters.
Jordan Peele's Us is a film I'll be mentally unpacking for days to come. This is a horror film that is intellectually playing on a totally different level. Us will be interpreted in a million different ways as this is one of the most thematically and symbolically rich Hollywood films I've seen in years. It is the kind of movie that cannot be discussed with someone that hasn't seen it yet, so my review will be as surface level as possible and contain no spoilers.
I'll begin with Jordan Peele. He became one of the most exciting filmmakers after his debut film, Get Out. He continues to be just that, again serving as writer and director. Peele is a very smart guy, and it shows in this new film. There is so much being said beneath the surface in almost every scene. I don't yet know if Us is a better film than Get Out, but it certainly IS a better horror film. The atmosphere and tension he builds is fantastic. The performances he's able to get out (pun intended) of his cast are incredible, especially Lupita Nyong'o, but more on her later. He's very selective with the information he reveals and keeps hidden, your feelings on that may vary, but it opens the film up to lots of questions and readings. This film is meant to be discussed. I'm super excited for the new Twilight Zone with Peele being at the helm.
The film follows Lupita Nyong'o's character as she goes on vacation with her husband and two kids. One night they're confronted by a group of doppelgangers. And that's all I'll say. My eyes were glued to the screen the entire time and I love all of the unexpected places this film goes. I'm rarely wowed by kids acting, but the two kids in this movie are really, really good. Winston Duke brings the needed comic relief as the gooberish father.
I felt that Lupita Nyong'o deserved her own paragraph. Hollywood has completely failed her. Since winning her Oscar in 2014, the only high profile live- action role she's had was last year's Black Panther. This is the biggest lead role she's had since 12 Years A Slave. Her work in Us is exceptional, Academy Award caliber even. She's essentially playing dual roles here and man is she putting in work. My favorite acting performance from last year was Toni Collette in Hereditary, another Horror film. She deserved an Oscar for that. Sadly, the Academy has a history of overlooking good acting in this genre and I worry that'll happen to Lupita this year, but she definitely deserves a nomination.
The score works very well. It's creepy and dread inducing. I was also impressed by the editing, particularly in crucial scenes in the third act. People will ask me if this movie is scary. Us has maybe a few jump scares but it is not here for that. Its ideas are way scarier. I will say this is scary compared to Get Out, but it doesn't come close to the terror in Hereditary.
I wanted to immediately rewatch Us as soon as it ended. It begs to be seen more than once, and I can't wait to. Your thoughts on this film will depend on your readings of the bigger picture. I've watched, read, and listened to a few discussions on this film and I feel that I've barely begun to scratch the surface. I'd really like to go in depth with this one but any thoughts outside the basic plot summary I gave would be heading into spoiler territory.
I will say that I don't think Us works 100% of the time in terms of plot. There are a few details I would've liked to see explained, but I can forgive some of that in a film like this where I think the why is more important than the how. I heard someone compare Us to Darren Aronofsky's mother! from 2017, and I totally agree. I absolutely loved mother!, if that helps give any indication on how I feel about Us. This isn't saying much since it's only March, but Us is currently the best film of 2019.
This follow up to director Jordan Peele's sensational debut feature "Get Out", which earned the director several Oscar nods and the statue for Best Screenplay, isn't quite as cutting or politically incisive. "Us" gives great creepy atmosphere and a pulsing paranoia vibe in telling the story of a middle class black family that meets their murderous doppelgangers. It also sports an awards-worthy lead performance by Lupita Nyong'o as the mother of both family units--one maternal, the other maniacally murderous. The disc comes with a couple bonus features that flesh out the film's political context, but "Us" is more allegory than satire and therefore lacks the sting of "Get Out" in my opinion. Still, this is an impressive sophomore effort by the surprisingly versatile Mr. Peele. I look forward to his next movie.
I would recommend this to a friend
Rated 5 out of 5 stars
Great Blu-Ray Set for a great movie
Owned for 1 week when reviewed.
Us is a terrifying but necessary experience that is both rewarding as it is compelling. The Blu-Ray/DVD/ Digital Code set is perfect and the extras help understand the film even better. I would recommend seeing some YouTube videos about the ending if you aren’t sure about what it all means.
I would recommend this to a friend
Rated 5 out of 5 stars
Jordan Peele's 2nd film is anything but a slump
Owned for 1 year when reviewed.
well-executed film, with excellently exposed metaphors, a mixture of several genres from within terror, excellent camera plans, lupita nyong'o too bright, only jokes cut the climate at a few times, only a script hole that bothered me.
“Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them.” And so goes the Bible verse Jeremiah 11:11 from the Old Testament which serves to add incredible weight to the context of Jordan Peele’s sophomore effort and follow-up to his Oscar-winning feature debut, Get Out. Specifically, this passage represents a key mind set for half of the characters in US, but given the countless interpretations each verse of the Bible inspires so does what this verse might mean to our cast of characters. Peele utilizes both a handful of horror movie tropes as well as some admittedly fantastic symbolism to reiterate the influence of this verse on his work time and time again throughout the film seemingly forcing the audience to determine just how much they might mean to take or receive from film, what these images and actions might mean, what they might be saying, what they're trying to say, or if they even intend to say anything at all. In the context of the Bible, this verse refers to God's punishment of the Jews after the fall of Babylon. God was punishing Jeremiah and his fellow Jews for worshiping false idols, but in US, the descending attackers who are also doppelgängers of the characters that make-up our main family seem to be mad at their counterparts for a handful of other reasons. Of course, there is no doubt the argument could be made that in some regard the family under attack in US are false versions of these invading doppelgängers thus the reason the red jumpsuit-laden clones are so intent on doing away with their counterparts, but it can't help but feel as if there should be more to Peele's second film than simply this tit for tat comparison between the verse he quotes and the story he is telling. Moreover, it doesn't just feel as if there should be, but it feels as if there is more at work here than just a metaphor for this kind of darkness that lurks inside us all; this ugliness we all have to come to terms with at some point in order to move on and either choose to better ourselves or succumb to our repressions. Of course, the seemingly numerous analogies and motifs littered throughout US could simply exist to suggest the inspiration of different ideas and considerations in individual viewers while the core of what Peele is doing is executing his love of horror on a much grander if not more stimulating scale.
"Us" is a pretty good movie. Honestly, if I could do half stars, it would be 3.5. This is not up to the standard that "Get Out" set. "Us" has a lot going for it though. I loved the humor. It had some incredible tense moments that I enjoyed as well. However, I don't understand the grand plan. Tim Heidecker and Elizabeth Moss were as hilarious as they were scary. Lupita N'Yongo was great, she was gypped out of an Oscar nomination. Winston Duke was great too. I enjoyed the little Easter eggs but when all is said and done, what was the point?