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Us (2019)
Movie Reviews

Us (2019)

A fantastic piece of original horror that’s heavy on intensity and light on gore.

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When Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o) was a young girl (Madison Curry), she had a traumatic experience. She wandered away from her parents at Santa Cruz beach and after passing a weirdo toting a bible verse, finding herself in a creepy house of mirrors where she came face to face with a girl who looked exactly like her! This Twilight Zone-style encounter left a permanent impression, and although she’s managed to have a relatively successful life complete with husband (Winston Duke), two children (Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex) and a well-paid job, she still feels the effects. She has this constant feeling that this doppelganger is out there somewhere… tracking her… waiting for her moment to strike.

And she was absolutely right! After a day of strange and worrisome situations during a day at the beach with the Tyler family (Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, Cali and Noelle Sheldon), the Wilsons return to their summer cabin to find a mysterious family standing in their driveway. After much tension and screaming, they find themselves victims of a home invasion by… themselves! Adelaide’s doppelganger has returned with her own family in tow: doppelgangers of Adelaide’s family. The doppelganger has resented Adelaide her whole life and tells the story (through her raspy voice) of how Adelaide’s actions have directly influenced her own life against her will. And now they’re here to sever that connection by killing the Wilsons.

Running, fighting, and using their heads may not be enough to save the Wilson family as they soon find themselves at the center of something far bigger than a creepy Twilight Zone home invasion.

Us was written, directed, and produced by Jordan Peele (Get Out and – coincidentally – the upcoming Twilight Zone remake series). After only one prior film, he’s already become a household name and box-office draw, which is impressive. But on social media, Peele announced he wants viewers not to go into this movie expecting a big social allegory like Get Out was… “Us is a horror!”

The film looks beautiful thanks to cinematography by Mike Gioulakis (Glass, It Follows) and is accompanied by a haunting score by composer Michael Ables and a nice variety of old hip-hop classics.

The acting was all around perfection! It was great to see Lupita Nyong’o in such a hearty role. She completely shines as both versions of herself, with an intense range that is Oscar-worthy, for sure. Also showing depth is Winston Duke who audience may (or may not?) recognize as the intimidating M’Baku (or Man-Ape for comic fans) from Black Panther. It was interesting to see him play a normal guy here and have some quality comedic timing. Even the kids were all pretty great, too. This was just a well-acted film.

What I liked most about this movie was how the scope and scale were constantly growing. Without giving much away, I loved how things start as this small, super-contained horror that quickly spread its wings to first go on the run, only to be revealed as a much larger problem than the trailer suggests. It’s no wonder Jordan Peele said he needed $20M to bring his vision to the screen (compared to the $4.5M Get Out was budget at).

The story itself was also solid and had me completely hooked (although there were times when I felt the awkward comedy in certain scenes was unwarranted and lessened the impact in places). It’s great in the moment and I was enthralled; it was only after the movie was over did I begin to have questions in the logistics of how certain things could work or why. I thought the plot and twists (come on, that’s not a spoiler – you know there’s gonna be twists!) were very clever and immediately after the movie my mind was blown. Problem is, once I got past that initial mind-blown feeling and started to really think about what I’d just seen… suddenly things didn’t quite click the way they did while I was watching it.

The question then becomes: do those things that don’t click make it a “bad” movie? Of course not! Inconsistencies and logic gaps didn’t affect my movie-watching experience at all… just my own post-movie considerations. In every way that matters Us is a fantastic piece of original horror that’s heavy on intensity and light on gore. The constant shifts in scope keep you on edge, and the twists are mind blowing when first encountered. Just… try not to think too hard once you know the entire story at the end.

About the Author: Travis Seppala