Jordan Peele’s Oscar winning debut Get Out captivated audiences in 2017. Easily establishing Peele has a visionary on the rise. Fans and audiences alike could not wait to see what Peele had in store next. Enter Us, a horror film centered around an African American family that run into their exact look alike or doppelganger. Where his last film fell more into suspense and thriller, Us dives fully into horror. Even though horror is where the film resides, Peele still easily intertwines his classic comedy elements, Us is another step in the right direction for this one in a lifetime talent.
The similarities between Get Out and Us are quite apparent off the bat. Both films lead protagonist is an African American and both begin on what seems like a fairly normal vacation. Peele seems to have found his niche in horror by taking seemingly positive or relaxing experiences and turning them into absolute nightmares for his characters and audiences.
In Us, Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke (both of Black Panther fame) star as the patriarchs of a family heading to their summer home in Santa Cruz, California. The beginning of the film flashes back to 1986 when Lupita’s character suffers a traumatizing event at the boardwalk there. Peele does a phenomenal job of building the tension in the first act. There is already a heightened sense of paranoia and uneasiness before we are even introduced to the intruders at the top of the driveway.
Right off the bat Us is already far more evolved from a directorial sense than its predecessor Get Out. The opening scene on the Santa Cruz boardwalk is so haunting compared to its lively setting. Setting the stage for an ominous endeavor as the film evolves through its second act. The sweeping shots of locales and the stunning cinematography gives this film and art house like vibe in contrast to the usual generic horror films. The score of this film is another triumph that must be highlighted. Peele brought back the same composer from his first film, Michael Abels. This score is so dark and creepy but has a vibe to it that makes you wanna bob along even though someone is getting their throat slit to it.
Peele also shows off way more action and intensity with his actors this time around. The child actors (played by Evan Alex and Shahadi Wright Joesph) are a breath of fresh air compared to the usually roles child actors are subjected to in this genre. They are not only smart but bad ass, Joesph’s character Zora is the young black female horror hero the genre has needed for years. Winston Duke’s portrayal of the patriarch Gabe brings a much needed lightness in some of the films more tense and darker moments. However it is Lupita who steals the show as here doppelganger Red. Portraying a sadistic mouthpiece for the doppelgangers as well as a woman doing whatever it takes to save her family.
Us is by no means perfect and does leave a few plot holes to be filled. But to be honest that is part of the joy of film, allowing ourselves to fill in some of the films blanks. It is a film that screams to be watch and dissected over and over. Peele delivers an ending that is also quite shocking, but I won’t spoil that here. The underlying theme of the film is left fully to interpretation and can be perceived from a number of different angles. To put it simply: Us cannot be missed.
Peele easily could have jumped on one of the high profile projects that were thrown his way (trust me there were plenty). But instead he chose to challenge himself and create an entirely new and original horror story. Jordan Peele to put it simply is in a league all his own.