The Phoenix

Why you should see Jordan Peele’s Us or why you should see it twice

Jordan Peele’s debut feature Get Out was one of the best movies of 2016. It is a fresh and unique horror film bolstered by a sharp screenplay from Peele and brilliantly acted from the whole cast, specifically Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams. The film was a phenomenon when it was initially released, grossing 255 million worldwide while only being made for 4.5 million. Get Out snuck up on me; it was a film I had no hype or anticipation for, but I was completely blown away when I saw it for the first time. Following a film like Get Out is a seemingly impossible task; but, Peele successfully avoided the sophomore slump with Us.

Us follows the Wilsons, a middle-class family who just arrived at their quaint beach home for a relaxing vacation. Their vacation, however, is cut short when a sinister family of doppelgängers who call themselves “the Tethered” arrive at the Wilsons’ house, dressed in red jumpsuits and armed with golden scissors. There’s a myriad of reasons to recommend Us, it’s a Hitchcockian horror thriller full of great performances; the whole family has to give two performances as the normal family and the horrific doppelgänger family. Lupita Nyong’o is incredible as Adelaide and her doppelgänger Red. Her unsettling voice and strange movements make her almost unrecognizable. The rest of the family, made up of Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph, and Evan Alex, does a terrific job with the dual roles, especially Joseph whose smile will now haunt my nightmares.

Us establishes an eerie atmosphere right off the bat during an opening scene in a creepy house of mirrors. This suspense continues to be prevalent throughout the film. Peele has proved with both Us and Get Out that he is a master of building suspense. He explained in a video for the New York Times that he used long takes and steady cams to keep the audience in the action while also not giving any catharsis. He smartly frames the Tethered in the background out of focus to create tension. The 2nd-time composer Michael Abels collaborated with Jordan Peele once again and creates another unique score that perfectly fits the mood of the movie. His score is full of violin and blaring piano that elevates the horror sequences. The remix he created of Luniz’s “I Got 5 on It” for the movie’s trailer is bone chilling.

Us is a very suspenseful film that builds and builds until a bloody resolution, which is also very funny. The family bickers back and forth in an attempt to defuse the crazy situation they are in. Peele, who comes from a comedy background, is able to interject humor without taking away from the suspense.

Us is without a doubt my favorite movie of the year thus far and I highly recommend it. However, I recommend you see it twice.  The whole movie is riddled with visual metaphors, symbolism, and subtext. Us, like Get Out, is about racism in America. Or is it about poverty and the class system? Or is it about trauma and guilt? Or is it about the origin of terrorism and America’s fear of it? Or is the movie’s message simply stated in the tagline “we are our own worst enemy”? The incredible thing about Us is that any one of these interpretations could be correct. Its symbolism and metaphors can be applied to any number of theories (while some definitely have more evidence to support it than others). Peele also throws in a third act twist that completely recontextualizes the film. Watching Us for the second time is a whole different experience; I viewed the film from a whole different lens upon my second viewing.

Us is a must watch horror movie that should be financially supported; it is an original nightmare straight out of Jordan Peele’s mind. While having homages and references to horror movies of the past, it is not based off an existing property, or a remake of another film, or a Stephen King adaptation. New, original, unique horror as exemplified in Us is something that we need more of, and in turn, something that the audience needs to support.

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