Us is the eagerly anticipated sophomore feature from director Jordan Peele, following his stellar and critically acclaimed debut Get Out. The film stars Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker. The film centers around the Wilson family, who are confronted by some less than friendly doppelgangers in the middle of the night on their vacation.
This film once again confronts us with a unique take on the genre that leaves us no choice but to consider Peele as one of the few masters working in horror today.
The acting is first up and most triumphantly eligible on the list of elements in this film up for commendation. Everyone portraying the Wilson family is faced with the monumental task of playing their normal part while also portraying their evil counterparts. The central roles are played by their respective actors with diligence, and they even went the extra mile by adding their own unique vulnerabilities and character quirks. It all feels very real, even when the spooky stuffy starts going down. The standout performance here can be found in Lupita Nyong’o, who plays her role with a consistent sense of impending dread brought on by her haunted and traumatic past. Winston Duke’s role is overshadowed by the grandeur of Nyong’o’s performance, but is worthy of a nod nevertheless – adding a nice comedic touch to the film when things get tense.
Jordan Peele’s unique directorial style finds a leveled balance between being a nostalgia trip and something that breaks new ground in the genre. Peele borrows elements from many other renowned directors who also helped break new waves in the genre, such as Wes Craven, Steven Spielberg and Stanley Kubrick. The opening scene reminded me of something right out of a Kubrick film – as a matter of fact, so did the whole experience, and a lot of that can be attributed to the cinematography in this film, which was helmed by Mike Gioulakis, who shot the strangely alluring 2014 horror film that polarized critics, It Follows. The nightmare Peele creates in this film for the audience to live in is a surreal and niche one for sure– one that will keep your eyes glued to the screen throughout the entire run time.
My only complaint (a mild one, too, I’ll add) is in regards to the plot. There are a few moments toward the end of the film as things start to wrap up where some holes in the plot begin to show, but when looked at in a larger lens and broader sense they become far more forgivable. It’s also important to remember that you’re watching a horror film, so a little suspension of disbelief is never a bad thing. This film encapsulates everything that makes going to watch a horror flick with your friends, family, significant other, etc. and distills it into one feature-length experience. It’s a lot of fun and just as equally provoking. I’m inclined to believe we are witnessing the next big thing in horror with Jordan Peele’s newfound success in the genre, and I can’t wait to see what he’s going to do next.