The moment Jordan Peele announced the vision for his follow-up to 2017’s Get Out, the film world waited in high-anticipation. While many expected another – what do they call it – “racially-charged” thriller from the horror scribe, Peele set out to deliver a solid standalone horror film. And that’s just what he did, with his unique twist.
Us explores the scariest being on the planet – humans, and the perils we unknowingly impose on others with our free will. Through his specific lens, Peele examines class, privilege and the woes of the world at the hands of God’s greatest creation.
Set in an alternate present day America, Adelaide Wilson (Lupita N’yagno} and her typical suburban family vacation to Santa Cruz at her childhood lake house. They are the typical two-parent/two-child household. Their daughter Zora (Shadadi Wrigth Jospeh) is filled with teen angst; Winston Duke’s Gabe chides with corny dad jokes; and, son Jason (Evan Alex) keeps to himself. He and Adelaide share a quiet bond, which only seems stronger when he goes missing for a few minutes at the beach.
This incident and other weird coincidences shake Adelaide to her core, as she begs to return home in the morning feeling some sense of dread. Her premonition comes true when Jason calmly reports the arrival of a family in their driveway. The scene everyone cringed at during the trailer besets an adventure unlike any other. The family of four red jumpsuit-clad Americans are spitting doubles of the Wilsons. And their goal on this land is a beautiful stretch of Peele’s imagination.
Given our four leads are doing double duty performance wise, Lupita belongs in the Best Actress category come awards season. She seamlessly portrays Red – her Tethered twin – with a creepy gravitas, grounded in the reality that Jordan has constructed. From the stress she used for her voice, to the haunting way she moves – Lupita displayed her true skill in these roles.
Apart from the acting, Peele’s mix of fear and comedy make for some hilariously dark scenes without sacrificing tone. The action is believable and chilling. Cinematography is precise and direct with its messaging. The score from Get Out scribe Michael Abels is every bit important and daunting, making the smallest of scenes grander.
The only hiccup is some story issues. Where his first film seemed more focused and on the nose with its messaging and narrative progression, Us seems more flexible leaving questions unanswered. However, that may have been Peele’s intent all along.
Despite this minute blip, the film is wholly entertaining and a success. Coveting the title of best box office opening for a film with a BLACK female lead, Us breaks the binds Hollywood continues to place upon black actors and creators.