Jordan Peele’s “Us” – find out why the critics got 5 on it!

The best way to see writer, producer, director Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ is to go in knowing as little as possible.

A young girl with a wide-eyed and frightened expression

The experience can be ruined by something as simple as a review or a bullshit “ending explained” video, which basically just tells you how the movie ends. If you’ve seen it yourself, with your own two eyes and you have half a brain you already would know how it fucking ends, no explanation needed.

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Jordan Peele makes movies where everything seems deliberate and has a purpose, right down to the marketing. For those playing at home, did you spot the rabbits in the Rorschach images on the movie posters?

Peele is the master and we are the submissive audience sitting in the cinema just going “o.k. what are you gonna do to me now?”

I totally get why he’s been labeled as this generation’s Hitchcock. He’s early into his career as a director but I’d suggest, based on Get Out and Us, he’s on track to be better than the great man. His ability to bake social and political commentary into his horror stories makes his work enjoyable on many levels. Where Get Out’s message was very much in the foreground, Us is a little more refined and sits better within the genre.

Obviously in order to market a movie you need to pull people in with a trailer, and these days trailers give a way a hell of a lot. Jordan Peele’s movies to date have been very special in that you can watch them several times, enjoy them on a different level each time and find something you missed, usually in the form of a hidden message or symbol that really only becomes unlocked once you’ve been through the entire movie and seen the big picture.

The story

On the surface, as the trailers lead us to believe, US is about a family terrorised by a family of doppelgangers who will stop at nothing to erase them and take over their lives. Scary stuff. I really related to this premise because as a kid I had this recurring nightmare that my parents were replaced each night after I went to sleep by new identical parents and I wasn’t supposed to find out—possibly a conversation for my next psychologist appointment and best left out of a movie review—I digress.

Peele has also hinted that Us is about America, and it’s right there in the title Us “U.S.”, as in United States. It’s about the fear of the others, those who might invade their lives and take everything that they’ve worked for. The boogeyman, the foreign invader, Peele suggests that it’s Us. We will be the ones to tear ourselves apart. Take a look around, it’s a bold and incredibly profound statement reflective of the times we live in weaved into a horror movie.

There’s also some really strong messaging about wealth and inequity, the class divide in the United States and how the wealthy run and hide from the plight of those less fortunate, even though they might be living right under their noses. It highlights the yin and yang of modern America, and other societies, like Australia that live in it’s shadow.

Is it because of this that critics are saying that Us is the greatest horror movie of all time? Well I’ve said it before, nothing is scarier these days than real life and what could be scarier than looking deep into yourself and not liking what you find?

There was nothing in Us that jumps out and scares you but it’s the stuff it makes you think about afterwards, and the connections you make on your second viewing that really gets the mind racing.

The cast

The acting is outstanding in this movie. Winston Duke as the dad Gabe brings some light to a lot of the shade, Shahadi Wright Johnson is great as the oldest child Zora, Evan Alex is the perfect weird little brother Jason and Lupita Nyong’o puts in a show stopping performance as the matriarch Adelaide. She is wonderful. The dynamics and the dialogue are perfect in establishing them as a legit family so you are completely invested in them as characters before the shit hits the fan.

When that happens of course you get to meet the cast playing their evil other halves and you really start to have fun, all of them are so menacing and you get those nervous, oh boy, here they come giggles when they show up. But again it’s Lupita Nyong’o performing as Adelaide’s doppelganger that really gives you goose bumps in the best possible way.

The verdict

Us is a beautifully crafted film with incredible cinematography and amazing attention to detail. The opening scene where a television is playing an advertisement for Hands Across America and either side of the set there’s VHS copies of The Man With Two Brains, CHUD, The Goonies and The Right Stuff and a Nightmare On Elm Street sets the pace for a film rich in very deliberate symbolism that does not let up until the gripping end.

The soundtrack is equally as good with the best part being the addition of Luniz’s classic R&B track I Got 5 On It that they adapt and crescendo into this epic orchestral score track that peaks at the films finale. And, in spite of the horror, the movie allows you to take a breath with some really well timed funny moments that never feel awkward or out of place.

I really can’t speak highly enough of this movie. It is such sweet relief to get something as original and fun to watch as Us. However, If I had to make one criticism it would be that Jordan Peele seems to have a lot to say and he may be trying to say too much here.

Regardless, this is what happens when studios stay the fuck out of the creative person’s business and let them do their thing.

Us is a thought provoking hall of mirrors for the audience to walk through. Jordan Peele may very well be the modern day Hitchcock to some, but I look at him more like the Chuck D and Public Enemy of horror.


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