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‘Us’ Is Alright, But A True Mark of Jordan Peele’s Tact

A spoiler-free review of Jordan Peele's 'Us' with no mention of 'Get Out'. 'Us' proves sharp and symbolic but suffers beyond its premise.

Creep Factor
Reader Rating1 Vote
5 ON IT!
Michael Abels' score is... perfect
Cast is great at delivering normal and very creepy renditions of themselves
Interesting premise with explorative potential
Horror elements are executed to a T individually, but diluted on a whole
Twists are delivered too late

Jordan Peele‘s ‘Us’ is an executional masterpiece, presenting three of horror cinema’s favourite things – supernatural stuff, slasher thrillers, and Coraline – as one, marvellous, idiosyncratic package that you’ll want to devour more than once. While the movie only delivered an experience that was slightly above mediocre on a whole, Us is a true showcase of Peele’s potential to reminisce and capture what audiences have come to love about sweet, classic, horror with an unbelievable knack for metaphors.

The Mystery of You, The Mystery of Me

The trailer for Us revealed that the centrally terrifying element of the movie is in the appearance of the Wilson family’s doppelgängers outside their house. The Wilson family is made of jittery and always on-edge mom Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o), lovable comic relief dad Gabe (Winston Duke) and two distinctive children played by Evan Alex and Shahadi Joseph.

The 'shadows' of the Wilsons, standing in their living room.
The ‘shadows’ of the Wilsons, standing in their living room.

These warped versions bring petrification and extreme paranoia to a base premise that could otherwise have been comparable to 2013’s The Purge. Thankfully, cinematographer Mike Gioulakis and Peele show a deeply-rooted understanding of visual style for horror, not treading but striding confidently, along the thin line that the mish-mash of sub-genres in this movie rests on.

Beauty In Precision

The movie’s opening is visually powerful and memorable, especially leaving an impression on the caliber of Michael Abels, a composer that Peele pulled out of Youtube. The music in Us is evocative, an amalgamation of modern day music production and gripping African music paired with Latin chants from the good ol’ days of horror. It’s eery and yet, so very infectiously fun.

Us is a Jordan Peele product, so the movie doesn’t go without strong metaphorical inclinations, offering commentary on the state of America and questioning the meaning and the extents of humanity. Peele is a sure connoisseur of restoring value to tropes, and this reels the movie back to tastefulness every time there’s room for anything garish. However, it is an over-execution of tasteful tropes and sub-genres that leads to the movie losing momentum, once the premise has been properly introduced. To word it alternatively – it’s scary, and then it’s not.

Poetry In Motion

Symbolism is elucidated but somewhat middle-of-the-road, and the wry wit that Peele has come to be known for is amiss. There are some twists/reveals in the movie, though impact takes a major dampener by the time they’re revealed. Some of the choices made are predictable, especially if you’re a fan or viewer who has paid close attention to the trailer for Us.

Special mentions go to the cast, who we all knew was going to perform exceedingly well. Lupita does an astounding job at portraying her character and its demented ‘shadow’, particularly in moments where elements of humanity make the two seem indistinguishable. The children project the individuality of their characters forth with flair, and Elisabeth Moss’ performance is like a delirious, grim jester box.

Jason Wilson playing games with his 'shadow', who goes by the name of Pluto.
Jason Wilson playing games with his ‘shadow’, who goes by the name of Pluto.

It’s jarring and ironic that a film with such momentous and unconventional execution lost its charm to exploration that needed to be kept within tasteful containment — but Jordan Peele’s promise prevails. The horror genre hasn’t exactly been the best evolution of modern times. It deserves a breath of fresh air, and with the same team, Peele’s going to be able to deliver with impact, over time.

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