Director Jordan Peele continues his streak with a thrilling Us.
Adelaide Wilson (played by Lupita Nyong'o) is plagued by a past trauma. But she pushes that aside as she and her family return to their vacation home in Santa Cruz. But when night arrives, the Wilson family is visited by four familiar strangers; figures who are doppelgängers of themselves.
Here be spoilers…
What we like
Writer-director, Jordan Peele, artfully orchestrates a symphony of scares that even raise the heart rate of this jaded horror junkie. Moments like when Gabe (Winston Duke) goes to confront the intruders standing in his driveway—armed with a baseball bat and putting on his 'urban voice' as an intimidation tactic—or Adelaide retrieving a set of car keys, even at her discovery that her attacker is still alive still manages to bring the whites out in my knuckles.
There is still the wink and smirk of Peele's comedic sensibilities. In certain scenes, where the tension gets wound tight, it's punctuated by a rare episode of jape before it returns to the horror at hand. To some, the levity might seem like an interruption but humour and horror stem from incongruity and transgression: laughter is just a parallel response to a scream.
Lupita Nyong'o is fast becoming my favourite actor thanks to her portrayal as a mother who is haunted by her past and as the double, Red, whose voice sounds like the halting jagged nails across a chalkboard. Nyong'o might have played two roles but you're forgiven to assume that the roles were played by two separate entities.
On the surface, Us is a horror film—mirror people, inhuman speech patterns; the blood, the gore. But beneath it, lies the raw beating heart of something far-reaching, far larger. Echoing the film's title card about America's vast forgotten underground network, Us speaks to America's current psyche (is it any wonder that 'Us' can also mean 'US', as in 'US of A'?). The unheard and unseen demographic casting off its oppression to make their voices heard. (Sounds familiar?)
When asked about who they are, Red replies in her own amiable crushed-glass tone, "We're Americans." This drew laughter from the theatregoers I was with. Red's response is a curveball but in the grand scheme of Peele's vision of America, it is the most logical explanation.
What we didn't like
Even with my suspension of disbelief, the explanation about how the Tethered came to be, almost didn't do it for me. Maybe, if their origin was left as a mystery, it would play better. I don't know. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
What to look out for
Without giving anything away, just like in Peele's last film, Get Out, expect tons of repeating motifs in Us. Keep an eye out on rabbits, the number one, mirror images… but when the film ends, you might wanna watch it again as you'll look at the entire film with a different perspective.
Us is showing in theatres now.