Movie Review Monday: Us
Before I begin, I must confess that Jordan Peele is quickly becoming one of my favorite storytellers. I’ve known for years the comical prowess of Peele, but when viewing Get Out, he really impressed me with an original and thought-provoking film that was simultaneously his first feature. Talk about hitting it out of the park, right? So, needless to say, the bar was set high going forward with any of his future projects.
Peele and some of the more recent horror efforts have somehow managed to convince me (a traditionally non-horror viewing film fan) to have a whole new appreciation of what the horror genre can represent. These type of films have ignored the usual horror tropes and combined a sense of humor to transcend the genre all together. The horror genre is expanding and growing in all new ways. I think for me Peele is a modern day Hitchcock with stories that exude humanity, fear, and anxiety but not in typical pictures. Us is a psychological thriller with layers upon layers of abstraction and metaphor. There are shades of Kubrick for me throughout the film in regards to the soundtrack and editing. It’s a masterclass of camera movement and cinematography choices.
The main cast includes Lupita Nyong'o as Adelaide Wilson, Winston Duke as Gabriel "Gabe" Wilson, Shahadi Wright Joseph as Zora Wilson, Evan Alex as Jason Wilson. The cast continues with Elisabeth Moss as Kitty Tyler, Tim Heidecker as Josh Tyler, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Russel Thomas, Anna Diop as Rayne Thomas, and Cali and Noelle Sheldon as Becca and Lindsey Tyler. I wouldn’t dare spoil anything that happens in the movie, but giving the setup doesn’t give away anything more than the trailers. The film beings in 1986, as a young Adelaide (Lupita) wanders off from her arguing parents on the Santa Cruz pier into a haunted house of mirrors, where she encounters a double of herself. We then flash to the present day with an adult Adelaide now married to Gabe with 2 children, Zora and Jason, and headed to a summer lake house.
Us is an incredible sophomore achievement for Peele and also features one of the best performances by Lupita Nyong'o, which is saying something since she's already an immensely talented young woman, who proves with every film her flexibility of genre. The only thing it does is bother me about how underused she is in the current Star Wars trilogy, but I won’t chase that rabbit…..that joke will land more after you watch this film.
Us contains a sense of simplistic storytelling, which isn’t a slight; it’s the kind of simple that requires an intense amount of precision and planning. Peele navigates the areas of class, race, privilege and the history of America that most would prefer to not discuss. There are more questions than answers with this film, but here’s the honest truth: that’s life. Sometimes there are no easy answers, and the film leans into that in a wonderful way. It invites you to look into yourself and face the inner demons that we all have locked away.
There are some mild critiques I could make in regards to the twist. There is some unusual restraint in gore for a film in the horror genre and a few odd character moments, but most of those I could probably reconcile with a second watch. It’s a massively detailed and dense film. Overall I think it’s a terrific film, and it pulls you in, inviting you on this weird journey. For me, it’s a must-see in the theater so you can enjoy your fellow cinephiles’ gasps and silence at the credits. The only problem is I’ll probably have to wait another couple of years before I get to step back into Peele’s impressive imagination.
Jonathan is a film enthusiast, video whiz, and extremely knowledgable about all things Star Wars.. He is the co-founder of The Digital Shore (@thedigitalshore) and Above The Line (@atl_movies). You can follow his many adventures through Twitter and Instagram at @beachjd.