“We are our own worst enemy”
So it is written as the tagline, so it shall be in Us, Jordan Peele’s immensely ambitious, deeply personal, and thematically introspective horror film that, like his debut offering Get Out, provides his audience much more to ponder than what we see on the surface.
The balance between good and evil is literally pushed to the upper planes as the film’s central family are confronted by ominous doppelgängers of themselves, the savage opposite to their seemingly peaceful existence.
Much like the aforementioned Get Out, which netted writer/producer/director Peele an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, the less you know about Us will only enhance your viewing experience, though it stands to reason that repeat viewings seem practically necessary to fully understand Peele’s complex allegory.
And it’s because of my intense reaction to the film, and the fact that I too went into the film blind on information, save for its premise and the sensory overload of its advertising imagery, that I’m leaving this review as ambiguous as I am.
What I can happily rave about is its performances, and no one deserves more praise than Lupita Nyong’o for her staggering dual roles as the family’s matriarch Adelaide and her doppelgänger Red. This is a performance of true mesmerisation, with both on-screen personalities evoking tension and an emotion that “horror” films are so rarely afforded. Nyong’o’s performance is the type that a film builds itself around, and should any of her notes feel false Us would buckle under itself, but the beauty and complexity she maintains throughout assures that Peele’s film never feels anything other than authentic, which is a feat in itself given its heightened premise.
Similarly, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph, and Evan Alex as Adelaide’s husband, daughter, and son, respectively, deliver equally as potent performances as both the innocent family members tapping into their primal urges and their doubles whose silent yet aggressive stalking provide the film with some of its most horrific and humorous moments; true to Peele form Us manages to evoke genuine laughter out of several of its hard-hitting set-pieces.
A thinking man’s thriller that works just as well as a singular slice of horror as it does as an examination of an artistic interpretation of themes far deeper than your average psychological thriller – not unlike Darren Aronofsky’s controversial and polarising mother! – Us isn’t so much a film that will scare you in the traditional sense, but will certainly resonate with you long after the credits have rolled due to the fear-inducing complexities it serves its audience throughout.
After sending shockwaves across contemporary culture and setting a new standard for provocative, socially-conscious horror films with his directorial debut, Get Out, Academy Award®-winning visionary Jordan Peele returns with another original nightmare that he has written, directed and produced. Set in present day along the iconic Northern California coastline, Us, from Monkeypaw Productions, stars Oscar® winner Lupita Nyong’o as Adelaide Wilson, a woman returning to her beachside childhood home with her husband, Gabe (Black Panther’s Winston Duke), and their two children (Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex) for an idyllic summer getaway. Haunted by an unexplainable and unresolved trauma from her past and compounded by a string of eerie coincidences, Adelaide feels her paranoia elevate to high-alert as she grows increasingly certain that something bad is going to befall her family. After spending a tense beach day with their friends, the Tylers (Emmy winner Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, Cali Sheldon, Noelle Sheldon), Adelaide and her family return to their vacation home. When darkness falls, the Wilsons discover the silhouette of four figures holding hands as they stand in the driveway. Us pits an endearing American family against a terrifying and uncanny opponent: doppelgängers of themselves.
Us (MA15+) is screening in Australian theatres from March 28th 2019.