03/25/2019 17:33

Film: Us

Year: 2019

Director: Jordan Peele

Writer: Jordan Peele

Starring: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke and Elizabeth Moss



This was a film that I was highly anticipating coming out in 2019. It was one that I was looking into showtimes while on vacation, because I was gone during opening weekend. I kept seeing the trailer repeatedly and it had one of the better ones I’d seen. I finally got a chance to see it when I still had vacation day scheduled when I got home. This is also one of the earlier movies I showed my then girlfriend, Jaime. I brought this movie up again after listening to an episode of the Eternal Darkness of the Not So Spotless Mind podcast. Jaime and I gave it a rewatch on my 4K.

Synopsis: a family’s serenity turns into chaos when a group of doppelgangers terrorizes them.

We kick this off back in 1986. We see a television screen showing us commercials before cutting to a boardwalk. There’s a family where the mother and father don’t seem to be getting along. The father might have a tad bit of a drinking problem and their daughter isn’t talking much. When her father isn’t paying attention, she wanders off into a hall of mirrors. It is there that she comes face to face with another little girl who looks just like her.

It then jumps to the present where the little girl grows up to be Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o). She is a bit on edge to the summer house she is going to with her family. Her husband is Gabe (Winston Duke). They also have two children, Zora (Shadhadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex). Something interesting is that Jason always has a mask with him and is a bit off.

Gabe wants to take the family to the beach, but Adelaide is against this. She is quite adamant about it too. It is stemming from that incident during her childhood. Gabe or the family has no idea. He does convince her they go meet their friends there. They are are Kitty Tyler (Elisabeth Moss) and Josh (Tim Heidecker) along with their two kids Becca (Cali Sheldon) and Lindsey (Noelle Sheldon). When Jason disappears to use the bathroom, he finds an odd man. This freaks his mother out and they go home.

Adelaide feels something is wrong and when the lights go out, she panics. It is then that Jason informs them there is a family outside. Their lives become a nightmare as they soon realize this other family looks exactly like them.

I went vague with the recap as I can to not spoil the film. It does start with quote that sets up what is going on here. There is a spoiler section at the end as I wanted to delve into this a bit more. This reveal doesn’t work for everyone. I fell in with them at first for a different reason, but then I started seeing all the signs that writer, director and producer Jordan Peele put in. Examples are the infamous C.H.U.D. VHS and Jason wearing a Jaws t-shirt to give a couple. Seeing these things, I give him credit for using these little things that only horror fans will probably pick up on for references.

Coming in, I had a feeling there was going to be social commentary. I can see that some of my friends won’t pick up on it or if they do, they are going to hate them thinking that it isn’t something that is an issue. I have to say, it deepens the film for me. It is looking at the issue of race. Gabe wants to be like Tyler’s. He gets things that aren’t as nice, but still tries to keep up. There are also issues of class, which is everyone against their doppelgangers. I don’t want to delve too much into this yet, because I could probably write a whole paper on the different issues, what they could mean and things to this effect. It is something that knowing Peele from earlier work with Get Out, I had a feeling we would get and I’m so glad they’re there.

Like his first film, I love that we are following Black protagonists. Adelaide is our final girl, just not in the traditional sense. As a horror fan, I’ve heard and made the jokes about who would die out of my friends and even seeing the documentary Horror Noire, it makes even more sense. I like seeing things from a different perspective and a film like this helps there.

To the pacing, I think for the most part it was good. I’m a big fan of the duality the film gives us of things that happened earlier in the film and then come full circle in the end. The ending was solid. There is a stretch later in the second and into the third act where I think it slows down a bit. The reveal is an interesting one, even though I feel like I guessed it earlier on. Regardless, this is one that has rewatch-ability for me. I continue to find things as well.

For the acting, Nyong’o was great. I love how her character is so subdued in the beginning of the film and then we see the fear grow within her. It is when she is faced with saving her children and family that she grows into what she must to survive. She’s made a couple horror movies thus far and I hope she keeps coming back to the genre. Duke was solid as her husband. He brings comedy which helps alleviate a bit of the tension when needed. Not enough to take me out of it as it comes off naturally. Moss and Heidecker were solid as well. I thought all the kids in the film, especially Alex did well. It can be tough for children, as they tend to go one extreme to the other for me. Alex and Joseph for the screen time they got were good. There wasn’t a bad performance here.

Next, I want to move to the effects. It looks like they were mostly practical. Something else I love about Peele that I’ve heard in interviews is that he loves the genre and that respect for the basics. The blood and aftereffects of attacks look real which helps. There is CGI. It is normally hidden by shadows, which is good. That preserves the realism. There were some face replacements to make shots work, so I’ll also give credit to the cinematography. I’m positive here overall.

The soundtrack was also on point. It seems to be split between an orchestral score and real songs. The ones chosen are perfect for when they are needed. I will never be able to hear the song ‘I Got 5 on It’ without thinking of this film. The real songs title and lyrics fit the situation. In general, what they used helps build the tension. I also wanted to commend song we get during the final showdown scene. It is the same one used in the trailer as well.

In conclusion, this movie divided fans on it. I took a bit of time after seeing it to process and then writing this to ensure I got down everything I wanted to say without spoiling it. I’m normally a guy who doesn’t like things force fed to me, but I like that this wants you to know things with the references. The social commentary is good and the acting helps bring this all to life. The score and the effects were both good as well. After multiple viewings, this holds up for me. It’s not a perfect movie, but Peele is two for two after this one. I personally felt this is a great movie.


My Rating: 9.5 out of 10




After my second viewing, I decided I wanted to do this section and delve a bit more into it. We get this interesting interaction between the child Adelaide and Red. By the end we see that Red choked her and then took over her life. This is interesting as when the real Adelaide shows up to confront Red, she struggles to speak. When I first realized it, that makes sense. That injury never healed properly so she struggles even now. This also explains why she is the only one that can talk.

I was talking this over with my girlfriend, now wife, after that viewing as she was confused as to why Red can talk. I equated it to someone with autism. Because she was above ground, able to get the proper treatment through dance and other therapy, she was able to get over being non-verbal and learn to talk. The switching is also the reason that there’s this uprising. Having Adelaide down with the other tethered, she’s able to teach them enough about taking over the world above. She needs to make a grand gesture and when she went down in 1986, Hands Across America was a thing. It is funny that it failed in real life until all these years later.

I used to have an issue with not knowing who or why these clones are down there. It was this time around that I caught on this was an experiment to control everyone above. The comment about tunnels underneath us that don’t really have a use is interesting. I’ve heard we have a ton of tunnels in real life there so I like the play on that. They tended to have use at one point or another. So that’s no longer an issue.

This idea of being tethered is where I’ll go next. This is interesting that Jason has more control over Pluto than anyone else. I think he’s more like Red so that allows him this. Jaime and I discussed this and it just feels to me that he got more of the dominate genes while also being more of the one below. Going even farther, he is building a tunnel on the beach and he’s wearing a Jaws shirt. I took this as the shark comes up under people. Jaime this time around pointed out that it seems like Red has control over Adelaide and I agree there. This is the only time it seems that the experiment worked.

The last thing is to go a bit deeper into the references. Jeremiah 11:11, which is the sign that the homeless man is holding up is ‘Therefore this is what the LORD says: ‘I will bring on them a disaster they cannot escape. Although they cry out to me, I will not listen to them.’ This describes what Adelaide’s plan is with Hands Across America. There’s also the C.H.U.D. case which is Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers. These people aren’t cannibals, but the rest of it fits. I also believe the A Nightmare on Elm Street box is referencing when Gabe wants to set up booby traps like Home Alone. Nancy does in that film. There are other subtle things that we see throughout that fit and add even more depth. This adds to my enjoyment.