Starring: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, & Tim Heidecker
Directed By: Jordan Peele (Get Out)
Runtime: 1 hour 56 minutes
Following up a massive phenomenon that also doubled as your debut feature is something of an unenviable position.Everyone is expecting you to do it again, because it looked so effortless in Get Out.You told an eerie tale that also doubled as a commentary on race relations in America.It was an Earth shattering debut.Something Quentin Tarantino giving us Reservoir Dogs out of the gate, Stephen Spielberg and Duel, or George A. Romero and Night of the Living Dead (probably the most accurate example).
Now Jordan Peele has taken our expectations and flipped them with Us.A movie that leans even deeper into the horror genre than Get Out fully cementing Jordan Peele’s status as a modern day Alfred Hitchcock.That is HIGH praise from me.Hitchcock is one of the five best directors of all-time.Too many people try to imitate him, but fail to be the craftsman that Hitchcock was.
Us is the story of a family vacationing in Santa Cruz.Mom is played by Academy Award winner, Lupita Nyong’o.Mom had something happen to her as a kid at a beach carnival early in her life.She doesn’t want to go to the beach.It scares her.It’s too close to reliving her fear.But she goes because her family wants too.It’s what you do in California.
One night a group of strangers, dressed in red jumpsuits, and carrying gold scissors show up to the vacation house and start trouble.The group of strangers look exactly like our vacationing Wilson Family.And that’s all the plot I will share.Because this movie is RIPE for spoilers.If Us is on your list of movies to see, go quickly, because it WILL get spoiled for you.Quickly.
What Peele has done in making Us is crafting a puzzle box mystery that warrants multiple viewings.The movie finished.The credits rolled.I wanted to watch the movie IMMEDIATELY afterwards.And that feeling has only grown in the days since.Yes, there is a message behind the horror.It’s less blatant than Get Out.You’ll only see it if you want to see it or if you read articles explaining the movie after you see it.
Peele has made this movie so well.There are so many Easter eggs.So many clues in the background as to what’s about to happen that you only realize afterwards.
Get Out had so many iconic moments, The Sunken Place, the spoon clanking against the tea glass.The imagery.The tight shots on faces in pain.Peele has maybe improved as a filmmaker from Get Out to Us.Everyone will be wearing red jumpsuits this Halloween, write it down.The line in the clip before my review tonight, “Oh you wanna get crazy.We can get crazy”, that’ll go down as a classic line.
Us is way more than just a horror movie.I mentioned the social commentary happening throughout the movie, but it’s also very comedic.Jordan Peele came up in show business doing comedy, so it’s no surprise that this is a movie with a good sense of humor.
The acting is delightful.And keep in mind everyone is playing two roles. Their actual self and a cloned version too.Lupita Nyong’o may have just created a classic horror character.She carries much of the movie on her back. Winston Duke who you might remember as M’Baku in Black Panther gets to play a dad trying to give his family it all.Sure, he’s corny, failing to be cool, but he’s also really sweet and it’s great to get see him in a different type of role.He’s 6’5” 250.But his size, weight, and race never come up in this movie.
Us is far from perfect.I hate comparing it to Get Out because they are two very different movies, but it’s inevitable after that stellar debut.Get Out is probably the better movie.But Us is more re-watchable.More fun.More enjoyable.If you gave me each of these movies and told me I could only watch one, I’d pick Us and not think too hard about it.
The ending is a little shaky.It works when you research it after the movie.But it’s far from airtight.Again, I don’t want to spoil anything here tonight.But I will very soon.I’ll be interviewing Robin Means Coleman from Texas A&M later this week.We’ll post a very spoiler-y podcast about the movie Us, it’s twist ending, and more.She’ll be on the show next week discussing her book and the accompanying documentary, ‘Horror Noire’.
Us is deep, layered, and effective.More ambitious than his first movie, Jordan Peele has arrived as the preeminent maestro of the horror genre.Using humor to cut the tension, Peele has crafted yet another film worthy of high praise.Not outright scary, not a two hour bloodbath, Us is that perfect blend of artistic/cerebral horror and mainstream entertainment value that the genre has been trying to perfect the last three years.
On a scale of 'See It/Stream It/Skip It' – See it.And quickly.This movie begs to be discussed openly with others.You will pass by people talking about the movie.Don’t have it spoiled.And if you’ve seen it, be cool.Don’t blab it out.But there are several different ways to view the movie’s subtext.So there will be conversations about the movie.
If you liked Get Out, The Shining, or Funny Games you might like Us.
4 out of 5 stars for Us.It’s not a straight up slasher gore-fest.It will make you think, don’t worry you’re not being preached too.There’s no social commentary unless you want to read into it.A deft thematic balance is taking place.Like a beautiful ballet dance.And if you’ve seen the movie, you know how meaningful that can be.