Jordan Peele, the comedian/now horror film director who surprised us all with the incredible, Oscar winning Get Out, has proven that he isn’t just a one trick pony with his new thriller, Us, bringing the crowds in in droves, breaking box office records and reviewing quite favourably.
But is the film really that good? I’m not so sure.
When Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) wanders off from her family at a beach side theme park as a child, she meets her doppelganger in a frightening encounter that leaves her with PTSD. Years later, now an adult with a family of her own, she returns to the very same beach which sparks memories of that dark time in her life. And then the doppelganger returns. At her house, with doppelganger family members in tow. The mirror family attempts to break in and it’s up to Adelaide to figure out what her twin wants and ultimately how to protect her family.
I love seeing a good, decently budgeted horror film on the big screen, and Us had me excited from the start. For the most part it delivers in the horror realm. Peele is great at setting up a sense of dread, even with a poppy, upbeat song playing. There are some great scares, super tense moments and just the right amount of gore.
Now finding his initial fame as one half of the comedian duo Key & Peele, one would expect a bit of humour in his films. It’s there, and it’s great, but there may have been a bit too much of it. I’m all for comedic moments to release the tension in horror, but it came on a little too strong at times, managing mostly to take me out of the terror, leaving me more relaxed than I feel I should have been.
Ultimately what Us delivers is a film with fairly deep and thought-provoking themes of privilege, duality and opportunity, but I’m not sure that they earn them. There are messages in the film that I was vaguely able to catch, but it took a quick Google search after the film to fully decipher them. I’m all for movies that leave you thinking, create conversation and debates long after the credits roll, but I just don’t think everything adds up strongly enough here.
Although there is some terrific horror and character moments to be found in this film, I think Us is a masterful director at work, but he is being caught up in how clever he thinks he is and isn’t giving us all the pieces of the puzzle. That can prove frustrating.
– Good Watch
‘Us’ is in cinemas now.