Us
Mandatory Credit: Universal Pictures

2017’s Get Out proved many things after it’s commercial and critical success, but most importantly it may have singlehandedly wiped out the stigmatism that only jump-scare horror films will account to financial success.

Scepticism is a powerful trait Hollywood producers have, having the ability to alter the career of young filmmakers with one syllable.

Coming over from the world of comedy, Jordan Peele’s filmmaking career was shrouded with doubt, but he was able to shatter expectations with 2017’s Get Out. But what Peele is able to do is entirely different, he doesn’t only make a statement with another film riddled with powerful social commentary and psychological horror- he elevates the expectations of audiences walking into a horror film.

Like great horror films to come before it, Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ can be consumed in many ways. A film of many layers, ‘Us’ provides enough substance while maintaining it’s mainstream appeal to become one of the most marketable horror films in recent memory.

Us” begins in 1986 with a young girl and her parents wandering through the Santa Cruz boardwalk at night. Through a series of events, she is able to walk out on the empty beach, watching as a thunderstorm brews in front of her eyes. As with any curious child, her eyes wander to find an attraction just off the main pier of Santa Cruz, and she discovers something deeply haunting—her replica.

After the opening sequence, the film shifts to the present day as the Wilson family is heading towards their vacation home. Once a little girl and now a woman, Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) becomes increasingly nervous about returning to that spot on the Santa Cruz beach. Her husband, Gabe (Winston Duke), kids Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex) make up the perfect family, but her angst continues to grow after failed attempts to keeping her calm. After a string of strange coincidences on the beach, the family returns home only to have their solace broken by a set of unlikely trespassers on their driveway: themselves.

Read More: Hereditary is Unrelenting- And Uniquely Terrifying

Where ‘Us’ succeeds is the staying power the film has, in large part to the tight-knit script penned by director Jordan Peele and the ability the director has to neatly tie the movies loose ends by the time the end credits roll.

Peele as he did in get out “Get Out,” uses broad humour to help deliver a cinematic experience. A journey with a multitude of emotions, Peele is able to get the audience to truly care about the Wilsons. Peele leaves dollops of humour spread among the duration of the film to also help provide a sprinkle of dark comedy and uneasiness that crescendos with a breathtaking climax.

Evan Alex and his Doppleganger in ‘Us’.
Mandatory Credit: Universal Pictures

Although Peele does prove that he is a generational talent as a filmmaker, only one thing outshines him in the film, his star Lupita Nyong’o. Nyong’o delivers the best performance of the year(regardless of gender), bringing a tremendous range and depth to both characters so well as she individualizes each with such clarity that it feels as if it were seperate actresses.

The detail that Nyong’o brings to her performance is almost unprecedented, down to her walk and facial expressions. Her characters represent the inverse of one another, Adelaide, who studied ballet, moves gracefully while Red, her doppelganger moves mechanically, as if she understands that she is a type of monstrosity roaming around in an unfamiliar, but eerily familiar home.

‘Us’ leaves you with a Shyamalan-esque ending, with a parting gift of hundreds of different ideas scurrying across your mind while trying to digest what the last two hours did to alter your perception.

Jordan Peele and his cast/crew set out to make a horror film to bridge the gap between film fans and casual fans together, but what we got was a visceral cinematic experience to remember.

Ananth Para
paramana@mcmaster.ca

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