After the critical and financial success that was ‘Get Out’, for which writer/director Jordan Peele won an Oscar for ‘Best Original Screenplay’, the new mastermind of horror has now returned to give us… well… ‘Us’. It plays as a throwback to 70’s horror films with its cinematography and style, and as a feature-length ‘Twilight Zone’ episode with its themes and characters, yet one thing is for certain; Peele is a filmmaker that requires you to throw expectations out the door and pay attention, even if the results turn out as predictable as you expect for a horror film.
‘Us’ introduces us to the Wilson family; Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) , her fun-loving husband Gabe (‘Black Panther’ co-star Winston Duke), and their two children; Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex), as they decide to go to Santa Cruz to enjoy some fun in the sun with their friends, Kitty (Elisabeth Moss), and her husband Tyler (Tim Heidecker). Yet the fun stops when the Wilsons are visited by a strange family standing outside their door late at night. What is even more disturbing is that this “strange family” looks exactly like they do (and are played by their respective actors), yet are as unpredictable. The only difference is that the family wears red jackets with gloves, carry shears, and speak in grunts or animal noises; the exception being Red (Also Nyong’o), who mostly speaks with a throaty sound and explains events for expositions sake. From there, ‘Us’ turns into a home invasion thriller in which the family has to survive the night and find a way to outwit the other family.
Before he made his debut with ‘Get Out’, Peele has been known for comedic work, especially with his comedy partner Keegan-Michael Key (‘Mad TV’, ‘Key and Peele’, ‘Keanu’). However, as it turns out, Peele has a knack for horror; he understands the genre, knowing how to give a feeling of dread and suspense that sticks with you until its climax with some subtle commentary to keep you talking long after the movie is over. With every beat, Peele hits every note possible, providing visual cues that may be more obvious than ‘Get Out’, but still chilling enough to keep your eyes glued. To say more would dip my toes into spoiler territory. ‘Us’ is a film that deserves to be experienced in its full glory.