STARRING: Lupita N’yongo, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex, Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Anna Diop, Cali Sheldon, Noelle Sheldon, Duke Nicholson, Kara Hayward and Nathan Harrington
A family’s serenity turns to chaos when a group of doppelgängers begins to terrorise them.
Us focuses on the Wilson family heading to Santa Cruz, California for a vacation at the family beach house. One night in the house, they notice that four people at standing outside in the driveway. When confronted by Gabe, the intruders start to move and break in, revealing to the family that they are their doppelgängers.
Following up with his success of 2017’s Get Out (which earned him an Oscar win for Best Original Screenplay), Jordan Peele returns with horror film Us. The film is initially set in 1986, focusing on a young Adelaide at a amusement park in Santa Cruz, California, who has a traumatic experience and is unable to talk about it to her parents. Fastfoward to the present day and Adelaide is now married, with two children, and the Wilson family head to their beach house in Santa Cruz for a family vacation. One night the Wilson family spot four people outside their doorstep, who then proceed to break into their home and reveal themselves….four people that look exactly like them.
Peele’s direction and eye for detail is really good here like in Get Out, particularly setting the tension with the home invasion sequence as the doppelgängers break into the Wilson family beach house, with some wonderful cinematography by Mike Gioulakis, with a really effective score from Michael Abels, collaborating once more with Peele. It’s more ambitious in nature than what I was expecting, as it looks at the themes of our fears, our darkest selves as well as America as a whole. The performances across the board are great I thought. Lupita N’yongo is terrific in the duel roles of Adelaide and her doppelgänger, getting to showcase her range of her fear and rage, to the point that her performance will be mentioned in the ‘who should be award contenders’ lists come the end of the year. Winston Duke is good as the dorky husband/father member of the Wilson family and the young kids, Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex, are great in their roles, particularly in their doppelgänger roles. I wonder if there was a choreographer brought on board for the doppelgänger movements, as there’s some great body movement work on show here and is effective in adding the creep factor into the film.
The film feels like it’s layered enough that you’ll take more in on repeated viewings, but as a one-off viewing I’m sure some people will be more confused as there’s a particular exposition dump in the final act that not only doesn’t feel that necessary amount of detail, but it also raises a lot more questions than answers. There’s comedic moments in the film and while I laughed at some of them, I would understand if some find it too humourous with what unfolds or has unfolded on screen.
Us is a decent film from Jordan Peele, which is pretty effective in the first and second act, but the final act just didn’t do anything for me other than start questioning everything that I witnessed leading up to those final moments. There is some great moments however, with great performances from the adult and young cast, especially Lupita N’yongo. I’m sure my views will change on repeated viewings as the film feels built for feeling like a different film on second viewing. 6/10