It is pretty much impossible to avoid the comparisons between this film and Get Out. Both are psychological horror films from the mind of Jordan Peele. Both films got overwhelming praise after film festival screenings and both movies are acclaimed for their storytelling and subliminal social commentary. So let’s get this out of the way, is Us as good as Get Out? No, but it’s still pretty good.
Us begins with a family of four on their way to the beach for a vacation. The mother, a woman named Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o), suffers from PTSD after a bizarre encounter she had as a child with a little girl who looked just like her. Years later, she returns to the same beach she had the encounter with her husband and two children. Later that night, as the family returns home, they are attacked by another family wearing red robes and holding gold scissors .To the surprise of everyone, their attackers are doppelgängers who look exactly like them. Soon the entire city is overrun by horrifying clone like figures as Adelaide must survive against an evil force who looks to replace them.
I’m not going to waste any time trying to decipher the meaning and the messaging behind Us because honestly, most of what you hear about this film will just assumption anyway. Us is great from a filmmaking perspective, but lacks when it comes to it’s story. The film feels much more like a thriller rather than a horror for much of the first half. When the horror portion of the story begins, there really isn’t anything that will have you shaking in your boots from that perspective. There is no doubt that the writer and director Jordan Peele made some bold moves in terms of the script with some heavy handed parallels to modern America, but to his own peril that leaves the film subject to some major plot holes that aren’t even attempted to be resolved or answered. When the story goes from a small scale thriller to a widespread conspiracy, the movie begins to collapse under it’s own narrative.
Now it’s not all bad, There is some great artistic style with the cinematography that makes this feel much like a 1980s horror classic that is very much appreciated. The comedic gags are toned down from where they were in Get Out, likely so it wouldn’t confuse the audience with it’s horror/comedy dynamic again. The handful of laughs that are present are brilliantly set up and executed. The music selection stands out, especially a orchestra version of Luniz’s ‘I Got Five On It’ that works great with the film’s intense ending.
The story leaves a bit to be desired, but the work behind the camera is some of the best stuff we’ve seen in 2019. Lupita Nyong’o carries the movie, as an actress she delivers her best stand out performance to date. Us is far from a perfect film, but it shows that Jordan Peele’s work as a filmmaker is anything but a fluke.