March 22, 2019
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II
It likely seems a little weird doing a movie review after all these years, especially for a film that just shattered the box office record opening weekend for an original horror film. Jordan Peele immediately became an important name in horror with 2017’s Get Out, which went onto win the former Key And Peele comedian an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. So to say that the hype was monumental for his follow-up would be an understatement. Thankfully, after seeing Us this past weekend, I (as many others have already) can proclaim Peele as a new Master of Horror. Us is an incredible ride, and while it may have a few faults, it is one of those films that begs to be seen, preferably in a theatre with a packed audience.
The film follows Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o) as she and her family, husband Gabe (Winston Duke), daughter Zora (Shahadi Wright-Joseph) and son Jason (Evan Alex) as they head to their vacation home for a getaway. Upon arriving Gabe plans to take the family to the Santa Cruz beach (now Vampire-free!) to meet with his friend Josh (Tim Heidecker) and his family, wife Kitty (Elisabeth Moss) and twin daughters Becca and Lindsay (Cali and Noelle Sheldon) for a fun day on the beach. Unfortunately, Adelaide has bad memories from her childhood of the beach as she had a traumatic experience there while wandering off from her parents to escape their arguing. After some egging on, she agrees to go, as long as they return home before dark. While at the beach, Jason wanders off to use the bathroom, leaving Adelaide even more scared. Later that night while back at the vacation home, Jason informs Adelaide and Gabe that there is a family standing in the driveway. As most know from the litany of ads and trailers for the film, the people are doppelgangers of the family. And to go into much further detail would be a disservice to this film that needs to be seen.
The first thing I must say about the film, is that Lupita Nyong’o is an absolute tour-de-force as both Adelaide and Red. That’s not to say that the rest of the cast isn’t up to the task, as Peele shows that much like Get Out, he knows how to perfectly cast a film. Winston Duke really shined in Black Panther in the role of M’Baku, and he is phenomenal as Gabe, who serves as much of the comic relief to help relieve the tension in many scenes before the film dives back into the horror. Shahadi Wright-Joseph is great as Zora but does incredible work as Umbrae, her double. I usually am not a fan of child actors in film, but she is terrifying in that role, as is Evan Alex as Pluto. The whole group really feels like a family in their ‘normal’ roles, and just as well in their ‘evil’ roles. And while speaking of child roles, I’d be remiss not to compliment Madison Curry in her role as the young Adelaide in flashbacks. Truthfully, the cast is incredible all around.
Of course, if you’re like me, you come to a horror flick in part for the terror and the gore. When it comes to the gore itself, Peele does a masterful job of working it in while never truly going for the money shot itself. If I had to compare the way that it is handled, the best comparison would be the original John Carpenter classic Halloween, or going even further back, Tobe Hooper‘s seminal The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. The film isn’t afraid to spray the red stuff around, but never goes in too deep, and it works wonderfully. The cinematography of the film is top-notch, as many of the shots, especially the final shot of the film is beautifully filmed.
It’s rather hard to fully review the film without going into spoiler territory, so just be aware that this is a film you need to see. The theatre I saw it in was about three-quarters full, but I feel it would be even better to see with a raucous horror crowd to enhance the film and many of its sequences. If you are able to make it to a theatre I can’t recommend Us enough, though I have full confidence the film will hold up well upon video release. Although let’s be honest, based on the box office numbers, many of you may have already seen it, but this undoubtedly seems like a film that needs to be seen multiple times to catch all of the little intricacies that Peele has sprinkled into his sophomore release.
Us is playing in theatres nationwide as of this writing.