In 2016, news broke that Jordan Peele, from the comedic duo Key and Peele, is directing a horror film! Once “Get Out” was released, it surprised everyone and kept gaining momentum until it shocked the world with 3 Oscar nominations and an original screenplay win. So, with the announcement of “Us” eyes were wide open to answer an important question; Was “Get Out” a strike of luck or we’re actually witnessing the birth of a significant filmmaker?
Events of “Us” start with Gabe Wilson, his wife Adelaide & their 2 children Jason & Zora heading to their summer house on a vacation. Things appear to be normal in the beginning, but then a series of weird events take place ending with their house getting invaded at night. The invaders turn out to be a family of doppelgangers of themselves. The intentions of the invaders are not clear but appear to be violent. So, the Wilsons embark on a nightmarish escape in order to save themselves, and discover where those invaders came from and what they really want.
In my opinion, “Us” is indeed proof that Jordan Peele is an important and distinguished filmmaker. He has a vision and a philosophy in all cinematic aspects that culminate into an overall unique fingerprint. In addition to being a true fanboy of the horror genre. I can’t say that he’s introducing anything very clearly different when it comes to storytelling or pacing or visual experience. I also can’t say that he’s pushing his actors beyond their style and method. However, when you add all that together you get a different flavour. That’s the only explanation I have to why I felt that “Get Out” and “Us” are extremely similar, yet completely different. Just like “Get Out”, the film starts with a very well made sequence that we’re not sure how it links to our story. Just like “Get Out”, we have a very intimidating title song that got me into a non comfortable mood yet I totally liked it. Just like “Get Out”, the road plays a role. Just like “Get Out”, humour has a sensible presence. Just like “Get Out”, we will leave the film remembering and trying to make sense of iconic tools. And so many other things that are just like “Get Out”. Yet, I definitely cannot say that I’ve seen a filmmaker simply repeating what made him successful in the first place.
As far as I’m concerned, “Us” is a sharp commentary on the concept of social class. How people are simply split into those clusters! How we are being lead to believe that it’s according to education, intelligence and knowledge while it’s all actually about appearances and economic worth. Generously awarding the fortunate & violently punishing the unlucky. Then, we move to the tricky part; What kind of feelings are actually boiling up from one class towards the other! And what would happen if we came to the conclusion that the world is simply not large enough for all of us. The film explores that concept very smartly in a series of very expressive scenes and sequences, and not at any second did I feel like it was all staged to help present that idea. Ok, maybe at the beginning of the Wilson’s home invasion I did feel like it was a bit staged to help present the idea.
In “Us”, we have a solid, coherent and extremely well paced horror story with a splash of comedy. Oh yes, I know Jordan Peele insists that, unlike “Get Out”, this is just a horror film. The only thing I agree with is that, unlike “Get Out”, the comedy here is not always hitting the right notes. Sometimes it’s very clever, and sometimes it’s completely out of place but, in the horror classification, the film is, and just like “Get Out”, very unique. I couldn’t count a single jump scare throughout the whole film. This film is plain creepy. In imagery, in rhythm, in characters movement, in music, in dialogues and in the stories being told. The screenplay got me invested, and the more invested I got, the more horrified I felt. That is not to say that the source of horror in the film lies entirely on your own imagination. As a matter fact, I’m getting more and more convinced that Peele is mastering the art of extracting scary moments from everyday life, and the opening sequence is my proof. Also I’m not sure why would anybody not feel invested in this film!! Because, unlike “Get Out”, the topic we’re exploring is not only relevant to a certain race in a certain region, and that got me to relate more to the events and the idea. Without forgetting how superior all the cinematic ingredients were. Especially in two key aspects, the visual experience and the acting performances. This film is filled with paintings of all types from start to finish. Paintings that you would hang in your room, hang in your dreams, or hand in your nightmares. And not only static paintings, there’s a particular dynamic scene towards the end that I believe we’ll be discussing and studying for months.
As for acting performances, everybody is great while Lupita NYong’o is far far better than just great. Again, I don’t want to spoil or help you cheat .. but track her carefully through the film guys, she tells everything without even speaking.
“Us” is very significant horror film with a real core, an entertaining story, incredible performances and excellent execution. It is not by any means an obscure film, it has a very easy to follow story with all the attractive elements of shock and surprise, but you can easily tell that it means more than what meets the eye and I think it’s fluid enough to accommodate many tracks of thoughts. It is not gory and it doesn’t depend on cheap scares so if you’re not a fan of horror in general, give this one an exceptional try.