Review: Us

Director(s)Jordan Peele
Principal CastLupita Nyong’o as Adelaide Wilson/Red
Winston Duke as Gabe Wilson/Abraham
Shahadi Wright Joseph as Zora Wilson/ Umbrae
Even Alex as Jason Wilson/ Pluto
Release Date2019
Running Time 116 minutes

I absolutely adored Get Out, so when I saw Peele was making another horror movie you already know I didn’t watch the trailers and got ready for the deep dive. I remember feeling fairly disappointing after my first viewing in theaters. It’s not like I thought the movie was bad. It’s gorgeous and the performances are phenomenal. However, the story doesn’t make a lot of sense if you think too hard about it, and I couldn’t get over that. However, after watching the movie again and knowing what I was getting into, I ended up loving Us. If you can get rid of your nit-picking and fully give in to the world Peele has created, you can find a deep and complex story about the human condition and the way we otherize and destroy one another.

The story follows the Wilson family, your typical upper-middle class family, on their way to enjoy a vacation on the beaches of Santa Cruz, California. However, their trip takes a turn for the worse when a family of doppelgangers show up at their vacation house. The Wilson’s find themselves at the mercy of their newly arrived doubles , and soon a cat-and-mouse game breaks out. I’d say more, but then the mystery behind everything would be ruined, so I’ll stop here.

The movie deals a lot with class. The Wilson’s wealth is juxtaposed to their wealthier friends, early on in the first act. Despite being well off enough to have a vacation home, the Wilson’s are still “demeaned” in a sense for not having enough. This idea is the thematic thread that makes the movie so interesting. People fragment and categorize one another based on the smallest perceivable differences. But do these differences really amount to something meaningful, or are they just arbitrary excuses we use to justify ignoring the suffering of others? If the difference between the haves and the have-nots is just a question of the birth lottery , then what can people do to change everything? The movie doesn’t answer the question, but it certainly starts the discussion – one that needs to be had even more given our current states of affairs.

This idea is present in every aspect of the movie, from the background decorations to the way the characters interact with their doppelgangers. There are 11’s plastered throughout the movie to remind the audience of the doubles. Every character’s doppelganger serves as a foil to their counterpart. There’s something similar, but off. Paying attention to the differences reveals a lot of interesting hints and shows just how much detail Peele put in. It helps that the actors/actresses of the Wilson family do a great job in portraying both themselves and their mysterious clones. Each pair is similar but eerily distinct, each feeling wholly individual. It speaks to their talent in being able to be two completely different people. In particular Lupita Nyong’o kills it in her portrayal of Red and Adelaide. She’s asked to do a lot and a bunch of the reveals and moments in the third act require precise acting to feel horrifying as opposed to tacky. She uses her face and body to really distinguish each of her characters. At one point, she interacts with herself without any dialogue, but it’s one of the most poignant communicative scenes in the movie. It’s something else.

Surprisingly, the movie’s issues stem from its desire to give the audience more answers instead of less. The mystery behind the doppelganger and the situation of how the story comes about are explained in a way that’s too absurd to take seriously. There are too many logistical issues, and the first time I watched it I couldn’t understand how anything happened. If the movie was more ambiguous about a lot of things, I think it could’ve genuinely been a masterpiece instead of just a great movie. Unfortunately, the lore behind the story is too hard to believe. If you watch the movie, view it more as a metaphor and/or put the logistics of how everything happens to the back of your head. You’ll be able to enjoy the genuinely engaging subtext at play on top of a gorgeous looking and sounding story.

Report Card

TLDRUs is a thought provoking piece that forces us to look at the way we categorize and judge others. There’s great subtext about class relations and some good scares to boot. Ambiance and performance are top notch, and if you ignore the somewhat absurd backstory, you’re in for a truly unique horror movie.
Grade A

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