Jordan Peele’s new horror/thriller delivers on the chills, but leaves more questions than answers.
Two years after the release of his debut feature Get Out, which garnered writer/director Jordan Peele the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, Us follows a family headed by Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke as Adelaide and Gabe Wilson as they and their two children (played by Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex) try to fend off a murderous family that looks exactly like them.
The film begins in 1986 where we are introduced to the younger Adelaide (Madison Curry) who is separated from her parents at a beachside carnival. When Adelaide seeks refuge in a fun house when a storm hits, she is met by another Adelaide who is not a reflection in the mirror. The effects on what happened to her has had near post-traumatic stress to where she initially doesn’t want to go back to that beach as an adult with her family when they are up at the family beach house.
There is a lot to unpack with this film and it is difficult to do so without going into spoilers, which I will 100% not do. I almost didn’t want to write a review after just one viewing, but I decided to go with my gut instinct and if there is anything I want to amend in a future post, I will definitely do so.
Much like 2018’s Hereditary or A Quiet Place (which were two of my top five films from last year), Us is a well-scripted, beautifully shot film that is driven by amazing performances by their respective female leads. Nyong’o does a fantastic job in multiple roles where she has to show a lot of range, from fear to happiness and everything in between. Joesph and Alex as the children also are effective in their respective roles, and Duke, probably most well-known for his role in 2018’s Black Panther gets to play the goofy dad and sometimes comic foil. Elizabeth Moss as Adelaide’s friend Kitty is also a great addition to the cast in a minor but enjoyable role.
As for the overall story, while I was watching it I enjoyed where it was going. Everything seemed to make sense. Until I stepped out of the theater and I began to parse the film and immediately focused on the plot holes rather than the overall message of the film. The central premise of a family of doppelgängers and human nature as a whole is fantastic. I just wish it was flushed out better and was more consistent about how everything works.
If you are a fan of the horror genre, I would highly recommend seeking this out. Peele has shown with both Get Out and Us that he is a filmmaker with a certain vision and flair. There are a lot of similarities with the two films, from text fonts to music choices and tension breaking with affable father figures. He is positioning himself as this generations Alfred Hitchcock, and I look forward to what he comes out with next. My final grade for Us is a B+.
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