There’s no need to sell you or anyone on another Jordan Peele film. After Get Out and before his hosting gig on the new Twilight Zone series, his marketability as America’s next Hitchcock is already in the bag. And even if this premise hasn’t been successful in your home, you have to admit that a sophomoric effort from the director behind one of the more truly engrossing, terrifying and most allegorical horror films in as many years if not decades, is an automatic ticket purchase. Rarely has a filmmaker’s follow-up been as anticipated and held to such potentially high standards. Dear readers, I may give out five star ratings often, but I like to think the body of my reviews is nuanced enough to express degrees within such ratings. Here, the degrees couldn’t be higher. Here, the rating couldn’t be more accurate. Here, the standards have been met.
Here, I will state that Us is the perfect pitch of a film. Now, could I be intentionally over-hyping in order to use lofty wordage? Trust me in that I don’t need to see something great in order to be flippant or even turgid. Could I be taken with single elements within the movie? Yes, but in this case, there are many.
For starters, Lupita Nyong’o is absolutely shattering as a mother, a wife, and a doppelganger. Her ability to go through the wringer of emotional turmoil, from simple annoyance to stoic joy to horrified panic to bloody revenging is a wonder to witness. This is her movie, and she dominates for better and best. Her popping eyes, her absolute urgency and her satisfying & complex expression of the main arc give me the impression that Us could only have been made with her specific casting. It may be a stretch to suggest, but I like to think that Lupita represents a certain something about a new generation of thespians and celebrity. A certain something good, of course, both about working in the industry and about awareness. Had she passed on this…
It’s difficult to use other films as a measuring stick for comparison with Us, and that is a very good thing to note. It really is its own thing, and Jordan Peele isn’t so much the “next” anyone, but the first him. However, in lieu of risking spoilers, I will try to draw some lines. Us reminds me of the dark comedy from Frenzy, the social construct from They Live, and the comfortable absurdity of a world gone made from The Trial. Hitchcock, Carpenter, Welles. Jordan Peele is in great company, and he’s only two movies in. Seriously, Us is an instant classic from an instant player.
I’m playing coy about the story and its mechanics, but will offer up that, as a thrilling horror first and foremost, it’s actually (and I don’t hesitate with this) reminiscent of The Shining, even and especially during its more “dull” moments, like exposition dumps or awkward comedy bits. Us has one or two minor clips where information is given that might’ve been best kept to the chest, but then suddenly takes it away. Just as you think you have the answers, the film changes the questions. The way we’re played with (sometimes at our expense) is genre at its finest. Jump scares? Remember those? Finally, we’ve moved back to tense tension and utterly strange weirdness. Finally.
Have I sold you on Us? I hope so.
RATING: 5 / 5
Us screens across the New Orleans area, from The Broad to The Prytania to Chalmette Movies to AMC.