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Director

Jordan Peele

Starring

  • Lupita Nyong’o
  • Winston Duke
  • Shahadi Wright Joseph
  • Evan Alex
  • Elisabeth Moss
  • Tim Heidecker

A sophomore horror from Jordan Peele after the success of Get Out, Us may not reach the heights of its predecessor but it undoubtedly has something to say and is bolstered by fine acting.

As a child, Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) was traumatised when she wandered into the hall of mirrors at the Santa Cruz boardwalk. She encountered what seemed like a doppelgänger but was never able to bring herself to tell her parents what happened. As an adult, Adelaide is now married to the affable Gabe Wilson( Winston Duke) and has two children, daughter Zora( Shahadi Wright Joseph) and son Jason(Evan Alex). They are visiting Santa Cruz once more so they can see the wine-swilling and discontented Kitty(Elisabeth Moss) and Josh(Tim Heidecker), both friends of the couple. Adelaide has never confided in anyone about what happened all those years ago and is unsurprisingly apprehensive. While there, Jason wanders off which really terrifies Adelaide as it brings back bad memories and they return to their holiday home. A series of other coincidences alarm Adelaide and just as she is confessing to Gabe about her trauma , an eerie sight comes into view. To the horror of the Wilsons, they discover the figures outside are their doppelgängers . Menaced by their sinister counterparts, they are thrown into terror. And it appears that doppelgängers are not just for the Wilsons, but for many others too. Desperate to survive and protect her family, Adelaide must attempt to outwit the doubles and figure out their origins before it’s too late.

Jordan Peele is clearly going for something more ambitious here and displays immense talent too. Not every decision he makes is good, but he is largely at home with this kind of work. In relation to the highlight that was Get Out, Us falls short. But Get Out set a very high standard that it would be impossible to reach that level of success. On the praise front, Us most certainly keeps you glued with an unusual rhythm and the fact that we aren’t spoon fed information and is open to interpretation. Peele has you sympathise and get to know the Wilsons before all manner of hell breaks loose, which is commendable especially in the case of Adelaide. I don’t think Us will be a movie for everyone as it’s horror but with a difference. I’m firmly in the middle as of now, but I think the positives are outweighing the negatives.

Once you settle into the groove of the movie, Us begins to reveal its themes and message. And while it bites off more than it can chew, I was impressed by the allusions it made to the oppressive nature of society and duality. This is backed up by symbolism that eagle eyed viewers will eat up as it all means something. The humour gets a tad excessive and I would have appreciated Peele reigning it in a bit more. I found that some laughs overshadowed what Us was going for and didn’t really help. But the horror and off kilter imagery stands out for a start and continues throughout Us. It has been more than a bit overhyped, but definitely has its merits more than its faults. I feel that Us is one of those movies that will improve when watched again as there is mystery there and I’m sure parts that we might have missed. So watch this space as my mixed opinion may change in the future as I think more on it. There is some chewing the cud to do that’s for sure and certain.The score is pretty stellar at conveying the overall eerie and downright spooky nature of Us, while a well chosen soundtrack is in full swing too with many a highlight of juxtaposition.

The cast do wonders, especially considering each is playing two people. Lupita Nyong’o is the biggest standout with two fantastic and very convincing performances. While Adelaide is frightened but eventually strong, her doppelgänger is sinister and unnerving. She finely judges both roles and it’s simply amazing how much she puts into both, from the fierce look in Adelaide’s eyes to the skin-crawling voice of her double. It takes a strong actress to convince as two very different characters, but Lupita Nyong’o is more than up to the challenge. Nyong’o deserves nothing but praise for her accomplishment here which is two completely different performances executed handsomely. Winston Duke injects a lot of humour into the role of affable father and husband, he does get some of the best lines and runs with them with fine comic timing. He also provides a hulking presence as his creepy double. Usually kids in horror movies fall into two categories; believable and annoying nuisance. Thankfully Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex are in the former category and hold their own against more experienced co-stars. In a small but memorable role, Elisabeth Moss conveys the dissatisfaction and vanity of her character with ease and commitment. Then she turns it up a few notches as a nefarious but strangely tragic double. Tim Heidecker supplies good support too as her husband.

A bit overly ambitious but nonetheless creepy and with many messages among the horror, Us gets by on atmosphere and excellent acting, particularly from Lupita Nyong’o.