Time: 116 Minutes
Age Rating: Violence, offensive language & content that may disturb
Lupita Nyong’o as Adelaide Wilson/Red
Winston Duke as Gabriel “Gabe” Wilson/Abraham
Shahadi Wright Joseph as Zora Wilson/Umbrae
Evan Alex as Jason Wilson/Pluto
Elisabeth Moss as Kitty Tyler/Dahlia
Tim Heidecker as Josh Tyler/Tex
Director: Jordan Peele
Accompanied by her husband (Winston Duke), son (Evan Alex) and daughter (Shahadi Wright Joseph), Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o) returns to the beachfront home where she grew up as a child. Haunted by a traumatic experience from the past, Adelaide grows increasingly concerned that something bad is going to happen. Her worst fears soon become a reality when four masked strangers descend upon the house, forcing the Wilsons into a fight for survival. When the masks come off, the family is horrified to learn that each attacker takes the appearance of one of them.
Jordan Peele’s Us was one of the most anticipated films of the year. Peele made an impact with his directorial debut Get Out, a horror film that was such a hit, with it even earning an Academy Award. His writing and direction over the whole film was truly stellar for a first timer. His next film Us was kept in secrecy, especially with regards to what the movie was really about. However, the involvement of Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke and of course Jordan Peele was enough to get my 100% on board with the whole movie before the trailers, images and even the plot descriptions were released. Us didn’t disappoint, and everything from the writing, acting and direction delivered on their potential, and have currently made this my favourite film of the year thus far.
I should probably note that it’s best knowing as little as possible before watching Us, in fact if you haven’t seen the trailer yet and only heard of the movie, I recommend not watching it. While the trailer doesn’t necessarily spoil anything, it really is best going into the movie not knowing much. Even having seen the trailer however, there are still plenty of surprises in store for sure that you won’t be expecting. Get Out can be firmly classed a horror and thriller film despite some comedic moments throughout, however there’s quite a bit to the movie that’s satirical. While Us also has some things to say, this time it really feels like a horror movie first and foremost, really leaning into the genre. Us is much more than just a generic home invasion movie mixed with a creepy doppelganger story. Once the doppelgangers show up, it has you absolutely gripped all the way through to the end. Peele also once again shows how good of a storyteller he is, at under 2 hours long, it has you completely immersed in the story and every scene feels necessary, and he also conveyed certain reveals very well. I guess there was an exposition dump in one point in the third act, but honestly, I’m not sure how else he could’ve conveyed all of that information otherwise. Like in Get Out, there is some comedy infused in the movie in a way that feels balanced and doesn’t take away too much from the tension of the movie. While Get Out definitely gets better upon repeat viewings, you can get most of the themes and understand the plot from one viewing. Us on the other hand seems to require more than one viewing to get the full experience, especially with some of the twists and the symbolism (still don’t understand the significance of the bunnies for instance), but it just adds much more to the movie, making you notice things on a second viewing that you didn’t notice the last time you watched it. It’s also a movie that’s going to have you theorising days after watching.
The main family consisting of Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Evan Alex and Shahadi Wright Joseph, who also play their doppelgangers, are all really great in the movie. People who know Winston Duke as M’Baku from Black Panther will see a very different character here as the dad character. Much of the film’s funniest moments involve Duke, he was really good here. Child actors (especially in horror movies) can be very hit or miss, however both Evan Alex and Shahadi Wright Joseph play their parts well. Something I like about what Peele did with his characters (as well as Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out) is make them smart, they don’t make convenient mistakes or bad decisions, even the kids here are smart. However, it’s Lupita Nyong’o in the lead role who’s just outstanding. Despite being an Oscar winning actress, post 12 Years a Slave, Nyong’o hasn’t exactly been utilised the best in the films she was in (even a Star Wars movie couldn’t give her much to work with). That changes however with her performance in Us, she’s absolutely fantastic in her dual roles and really is something to watch. I won’t be surprised if by the end of the year it’s still one of the best performances of 2019. Other supporting actors like Elizabeth Moss also play their parts well.
Jordan Peele already showed himself to be a good director with Get Out but he’s on another level here, his first film wasn’t a fluke at all. This film looks so great, much more than Get Out (which was already a really good looking movie). Some sequences are just directed and edited so incredibly well that it can be mesmerising. The biggest example of this is a particular scene in the third act, you’ll know which one I’m talking about when you watch it. With this film leaning much more into the horror genre, Peele also has some very great suspenseful scenes, many of them really succeeding in getting under your skin. Michael Abels returns to collaborate with Jordan Peele after Get Out and once again it’s very effective and added a lot to the movie, and this is only his second score.
Us is among the best horror movies of recent memory. It was entertaining, scary, creepy, hilarious, Peele’s writing and direction were great as usual, and the performances (especially from Lupita Nyong’o) were fantastic. I feel like I really need to watch this movie again, it was just so overwhelming, and I just know that I’ll pick up on much more the next time I see. If you like horror movies, and if you particularly liked Get Out, definitely watch Us as soon as you can, and avoid spoilers as much as possible. You won’t regret it.