"Us" Review: Be Prepared for Nightmares
A little over two years ago, Jordan Peele told us to Get Out. This time he wants us to look at ourselves in his new movie Us. While this film doesn’t rise to the masterpiece heights of its predecessor, it sure proves that Peele understands cinema and he’s no one hit wonder. Usually I’d say the hype is real, but the truth is true this time around, and Us is the sci-fi/horror truth!
As a young girl, Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o) wandered off from her parents at the Santa Cruz beach. The experience left her speechless and in therapy for years. So years later, when her husband Gabe (Winston Duke) decides that her and the kids should go to the same beach for vacation, she begrudgingly goes. They meet up with the Tyler family and Adelaide learns Kitty’s (Elizabeth Moss) secret to dealing with life is booze, while Gabe and Josh (Tim Heidecker) compare boat sizes.
Once they finally get home and Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex) are tucked in, the lights go out and things get weird. A family stands at the edge of the drive way and won’t budge off the property. Once the Wilson family realizes the family is comprised of themselves (called the tethered), a story only Jordan Peele could unveil begins.
Peele hits every note of suspense in setting up scenes that we as an audience are frightened by and using every element of cinema to capitalize on that fear in a way in which you feel like you are in the situation. He uses sound and the lack thereof to build those fight or flight moments that we experience in real life. He’s not afraid to let a moment breathe and build the tension in a scene like some directors in the genre back away from these days. His blocking of characters shows an understanding of a frame of film and how to use it. In a scene with Adelaide riding shotgun in the foreground on the way to the beach with a look of absolute nervousness and Gabe in the background obliviously happy, he allows the story to be told without a useless back and forth of camera shots.
Lupita Nyong’o gives a stellar performance as both Adelaide and her tethered, Red. She plays a range of emotions as both characters and is stellar at it. Red’s presence is almost good enough to put her in the top lists of movie villains. The rest of the cast equally play their parts well in such a way that once the story comes together, you’ll have tons to talk about in the parking lot.
You better believe I’m talking around this film so you can go in as blank as possible. Us does have some story issues, but the setup and storytelling more than make up for those issues. See this film with as many black people as possible! It will only enhance your experience because this is definitely a film you may find yourself talking to the screen in throughout its second and third acts. If you don’t know how to do it, sit back and take notes because it might get hilarious in all the right ways. The best part is, the main characters don’t constantly make silly decisions. It’s old fashion horror and sci-fi with all the good twists and turns it seems we will come to expect from a Jordan Peele movie. With this film, it seems we’re on the verge of seeing a new auteur in the suspense thriller genre.
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