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Us Movie Review

Written by Ryan Holloway

Released by Universal Pictures UK

Us Large

Written and directed by Jordan Peele
2019, 116 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
In cinemas March 22nd, 2019

Starring:
Lupita Nyong’o as Adelaide Wilson/ Red
Winston Duke as Gabe Wilson/ Abraham
Elisabeth Moss as Kitty Tyler/ Dahlia
Tim Heidecker as Josh Tyler/ Tex
Shahadi Wright Joseph as Zora Wilson/ Umbrae
Evan Alex as Jason Wilson/ Pluto

Review:

Jordan Peele has taken to the director’s chair in thrilling fashion with a career trajectory much like Quentin Tarantino in the 1990s, fresh, exciting and brimming with palpable energy and pop culture references.

If Get Out was Peele’s Reservoir Dogs then Us is his Pulp Fiction, it takes all the edginess, social awareness, subtext and dark humour that made Get Out such a hit and ramps it up several notches.

Although not as simple a premise as his first film, the scope of Us is undeniably ambitious, and quite brilliant, and if there were any question marks over whether Get Out was a horror film (like it mattered), then Us is horror with a capital H and it’s often beautiful to behold.

Us 01 Us 02

Lupita Nyong’o plays Adelaide, a woman we first meet as a child, who wanders off on her own while visiting a Santa Cruz Boardwalk with her parents. Drawn into a creepy hall of mirrors, she has an experience that will haunt her well into adulthood. We then catch up with her and husband Gabe, the instantly likable Winston Duke, and their kids Zora (Wright Joseph) and Jason (Alex) as they are driving to Santa Cruz to their holiday home.

Clearly still affected by her childhood experience, Adelaide is constantly on edge despite Gabe’s Dad jokes and attempts to make it the best vacation ever! He never quite reaches Clark Griswold levels thankfully.

Peele obviously knows comedy and these opening scenes are a wonderful mixture of funny and sweet without ever becoming sickly, but as with Get Out, there is an air of threat that makes the humour even more welcome, because guess what? Shit's about to get unreal.

After a visit to the very beach she went missing on years ago and an afternoon with their frankly unlikable friends Kitty (Moss) and Josh (Heidecker) the family retreats back to the vacation house and as night falls a family turns up on their drive and eventually invades their home. Although the trailers reveal that the invaders are their doppelgangers, it still shocks and gives you the creeps, and the fear factor rises to almost unbearable levels as Red, the leader of the family (also played by Nyong’o) attempts to explain the purpose of their visit.

Us 03 Us 04

As the second act kicks in, and the film more than earns its horror status, this is where Nyong’o is at her best. As Red she becomes a character that is sure to be added to the maniac hall of fame comfortably sitting somewhere between Hannibal Lecter and Heath Ledger’s Joker. She is sublime, scary and theatrical and, forgetting the obvious effect her character will now have on the rest of the film’s protagonists as well as our own psyches, she is captivating in every frame she inhabits.

Things do start to feel a little too familiar at this point but Us has way more surprises up its red-overalled sleeves and we soon realise that there is a bigger story at play here, elevating the film beyond a simple ‘The Strangers’ set up.

Peele also manages to do something that few directors can, especially within the horror genre, and that is to keep up the momentum. The film never drifts or becomes lazy, instead drawing us in to the family’s struggles both mental and physical and giving us some stunning visuals along the way. A huge amount of the film’s success can also be attributed to the performances from the two families; each character perfectly balancing relatable and menacing without ever becoming parody.

Beneath the blood there is a larger context to Us, which will undoubtedly become a talking point, and while it is quite poignant for our times, its also very strong visually.

Us 05 Us 06

As with Get Out, Michael Abels is back on composer duty and does some fantastic work here, especially when beautifully integrating the 1995 classic ‘I Got 5 On it’ by Luniz. His self-proclaimed ‘Gospel Horror’ music is perfection and, as with Peele, his next project will be one to look out for.

Peele’s ambition is explosive and admirable, sadly, if you stop to think about the plot too much it will collapse like a Brexit deal in Parliament, but the good news is that it really doesn’t matter. You will find yourself so invested that all there is left to do at the end is let out that breath you’ve been holding for two hours, go home, lock all the doors and never, ever look out of the window.

One thing’s for sure, sales of scissors, driving gloves and red overalls are going to sky rocket this Halloween.

Grades:

Movie: Fourstars Us Small
Buy Amazon Uk

About The Author
Ryan Holloway
Staff Reviewer
As far back as he can remember Ryan has always had an obsession with films, and horror in particular. 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' and ‘Alien’ were the first films that really stuck in the psyche and rather than scarring his tiny mind and running up a huge therapy bill, those films created a fascination with the dark side of life and art. Brought up by Freddy, Jason and Michael Myers (not literally), horror will always fascinate him no matter how absurd, dark, twisted, barmy or just plain wrong. Horror DNA gives him the opportunity, and excuse, to legitimise his macabre tastes and watch whatever strangeness comes his way.
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