Jordan Peele scares 'Us' again
Source: Rolling Stone
The best word to describe “Us” is “spectacular.” “Us,” written and directed by Jordan Peele, is the highly anticipated follow-up to his 2017 horror debut, “Get Out.” The film doubled its projected box office opening, making $70 million domestically in its opening weekend. This made it the highest-grossing opening weekend for an original horror movie ever.
“Us” centers on a family who arrives at their summer home near Santa Cruz, California for a getaway. Soon after their arrival, the mother, Adelaide, is haunted by a traumatic experience from her childhood at the Santa Cruz boardwalk, where she got lost in a hall of mirrors and came face-to-face with a reflection that ended up not being a reflection after all. It soon turns out that her unease was justified after all when her son, Jason, comes in to warn his parents that, “There’s a family in our driveway.”
What follows is nearly two hours of action-packed horror in which Adelaide, her husband Gabe and their children, Zora and Jason, try to outwit, overpower and outrun the clones of themselves that have broken into their home. Neither the jump scares nor the blood and gore are gratuitous – they appear in places and amounts that make sense and drive the story forward.
Peele’s background in comedy absolutely shines through in some of the tensest moments of the film, with the characters reacting honestly to the situations they are presented with. Part of what makes the story so nerve-wracking is how real it all manages to feel.
The shining moment of the film is the final showdown between Adelaide and her doppelganger, Red. No spoilers here, but the cinematography, choreography of the fight, editing and interspersing of backstory in this scene alone would make this the best horror movie released in a very long time, regardless of the rest of the film, though the rest of the film is incredible as well. The now-infamous final twist leaves jaws on the floor, and a second viewing reveals a lot more than initially meets the eye.
Lupita Nyong’o is undoubtedly the heart and soul of this film, delivering a dual performance of Adelaide and Red that is equal parts heart-pounding and earth-shaking. Red is spine-chillingly creepy with sharp movements; a scratchy, hoarse voice; and a wide-eyed, piercing gaze that would give even the brave of heart nightmares. Adelaide is a mother with more to her than meets the eye, determined to protect her children even while reliving the trauma of her childhood experience.
Two sides of the same coin, Nyong’o plays both with such utter conviction that it is difficult to see why she has not landed a role of this prominence before now. One thing is for certain – Nyong’o is due for the praise she has received for this film.
Some cinema buffs theorize that “Us” is a second step in Jordan Peele’s allegorical series that began with “Get Out.” “Get Out,” as many will remember, dealt with issues of slavery, cultural appropriation and racism that are entrenched in American society.
Peele has stated that he wants to make more films with similar themes, and some think that “Us” sets out to do just that, this time tackling the issue of privilege. Peele has made no comment in regard to these rumors yet, however, and the movie is just as fun, scary and thought-provoking without it.
Go see “Us.” You will not regret it.