While Us is most definitely going to take multiple re-watches and months of pondering to fully understand (this one is a real thinker, guys), there’s still one thing that I can say right now with the utmost confidence: we’re starting the Lupita Nyong’o Oscar campaign right this very second.
I’m not going to let this become another Toni Collette in Hereditary kind of situation. Not again.
Us is a new psychological horror thriller that comes straight from the mind of Jordan Peele — a man who, at this point, hardly needs of an introduction as Get Out was the most influential and important movies of the past couple of years.
While he took on a producing role of Spike Lee’s Blackkklansman last year, Peele’s now back in the director’s chair with Us with a brand new nightmare that’s bound to make a whole bunch of people lose a lot of sleep this weekend.
It’s scary, guys. Like, really scary.
Often poking fun of and indirectly referencing Them! — a 1960’s propaganda film that’s about a bunch of giant ants from Mexico that invade the United States through a series of underground tunnels — Us takes place in modern day Santa Cruz and tells the story of the Wilson family.
Gabe (Winston Duke), Adelaide (Nyong’o), Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex) are all headed to their vacation home in West California for a little bit of rest and relaxation.
Granted, Adelaide isn’t necessarily looking forward to the trip herself — she’s hasn’t really been comfortable by the ocean ever since living through a pretty traumatic incident involving a beach during her childhood — but she’s willing to suck it up for the good of the family.
So, they break out the beach chairs and Gabe starts up his new boat (a repeated joke that becomes funnier and funnier each time it’s mentioned), head out to the shore to greet their friends Kitty (Elisabeth Moss) and Josh (Tim Heidecker) and get ready to do nothing at all for the next week.
Adelaide just can’t relax, though. She finds herself paranoid and on-edge, to the point where she’s practically running around hysterical when Jason vanishes from her sight for just a few minutes after he wanders off to the bathroom.
More importantly, Adelaide becomes increasingly aware of a number of coincidences that seems to be surrounding both the area and her family. It’s nothing major, really, but rather is just a whole bunch of small oddities that start to cumulate after a while.
That’s when the family shows up in the Wilson’s driveway.
Jason is the first one to notice that there are four figures mysteriously standing in front of their home late one evening. Gabe, bless his heart, goes outside to try and see what they want, only to discover something horrifying — these four figures look exactly like the four members of the family.
They don’t intend to just stand there all night, either. The “others,” we’ll call them, quickly break into the Wilson’s house and sit them down on the couch all Funny Games style before unleashing a series of horrors and twisted revelations on to each one of them.
That all takes place within the first twenty or thirty minutes, too, as the rest of Us then explores what’s happening to the family and the rest of the world, how they’re going to get out of it and why this is happening in the first place.
First and foremost, I want to stress one important point when it comes to Us: this is a very different movie than Get Out.
Duh, you’re saying to yourself. Of course, it’s a different movie than Get Out was. Seems like a pretty obvious statement to make, right?
Maybe so, but I’m guessing a lot of people will underestimate just how different these two movies are and might unfairly lash out at Us because of it. Get Out was a layered film, but it was one that was pretty accessible and crowd-pleasing, too. You could watch that movie once and still get its’ overall gist, with multiple re-watches then improving that experience.
Us doesn’t just request or require multiple re-watches to understand the film — it straight up demands them. This is something that feels just as twisted and pointed as Get Out, but takes on a more experimental kind of tone (not to the level of something like Climax, which just goes too far, but more so than most people are going to be expecting) to tell its story.
Point is, just because you liked Get Out doesn’t mean you will automatically love Us.
I, however, do love Us, even if I don’t fully understand everything that the movie is trying to say just quite yet. Those questions I have in my head about what certain things mean just make me admire the movie more and more, as I love it when a film can dig its way into my brain in a way where I just can’t stop thinking about it.
The horror aspects are all pretty brilliant in Us, whether that comes from the Twilight Zone-like nature of the story that slowly reveals itself (all without having some great big expositional dump anywhere in there) or it’s the terrifying performances from the cast of four main character’s doppelgängers.
I’m not about to spoil any of those moments, of course, but imagine some kind of unholy mix of The Strangers with Invasion of the Body Snatches and The Invintation.
Peele then uses comedy to balance out a lot of those heavier moments and actually manages to pull it off, too. For all the times that I was screaming during this movie, I also found myself laughing out loud — mostly because of Duke’s lines, who’s more or less the comedic relief character.
Still, he’s able to pull off a good and believable performance in there too, as do both Joseph and Alex. Really, though, there’s no denying that this is Nyong’o’s movie from the moment it starts to the moment it ends. She’s brilliant and if there’s no awards love for her next year, we riot.
Also, can we just stop for a second and appreciate how awesome it is that Us features a predominately African-American cast even though the script doesn’t require it? Something like Get Out requires the characters to be the ethnicities they are in order for the story itself to actually make sense. Us’s script doesn’t though, as the family’s race never really factors into the plot. Peele just decided to make them African-American, which is great and one step closer to the kind of diversity we should regularly be seeing in Hollywood.
As you might have imagined, there’s some social commentary thrown in there too — again done in a way that’s a lot less recognizable and not necessarily obvious.
All of this is to say that Us takes time to digest. There are some things in there, even, that count on you not understanding until you look it up on your phone after the movie is done. It’s a lot to take in with just one viewing (like, there’s this plot twist towards the end of the movie and I’m not even sure if it works or not yet just because I don’t fully comprehend everything that happens in Us), but it’s also something I’m so ready to grant multiple viewings too.
There’s just something about Us that makes me want to immediately come back to it and see what else I notice. Maybe it’s the way that it’s able to be enjoyable while also being so mysterious or maybe it’s just because I really haven’t seen anything like this before, but I’m ready to see this film at least two or three more times before it leaves theaters.
So, let’s all take a moment to thank Jordan Peele. Thank him for always being interesting and for never selling yourself short. In case there was ever any doubt before, he’s a director who’s here to stay.
Watch the trailer for Us here and then let us know, in the comments below, what you thought of the film!