“Mom, there’s a family in our driveway….and they want to kill us.”
Jordan Peele’s newest horror film, Us, premiered on March 22nd this year. Much like his predecessor, Get Out, Peele’s second film has made a lasting impression on its audience and the horror genre as a whole. It has already become the third most successful horror film of all time, behind Stephen King’s It and the renowned Halloween. Featuring an all-star African-American cast and an unsettling musical score, Us will send chills down your spine and have you double-checking your doors at night for weeks.
Us tells the story of an American family that is relentlessly hunted by nearly identical counterparts called the “tethered.” The identical family are dexterous and skilled fighters, and they have one goal in mind: killing the “original” family. As if this is not enough suspense, it is soon revealed that everyone in the small town has these counterparts, which come to be known as the “shadows”. They are dressed in red and hungry for vengeance, as they have been forced to live in destitution and despair while their counterparts live comfortable.
Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’O plays the leading lady, and her ability to play both the hunter and the hunted is frighteningly impressive. In fact, the acting throughout the film, as a whole, was very impressive, considering each actor had to play two opposing characters. Us’s plot is very ambitious, even for Jordan Peele, but, for the most part, it was executed flawlessly.
The majority of horror films today depend on the classic jump scare, which has become a relatively cheap and unoriginal way to engage an audience. It takes real creativity to terrify viewers in modern film, and Peele does not disappoint. While the movie does include suspense and a few jumps, Peele also incorporates many intelligent directorial elements to make audiences shake in their seats and cover their eyes. The movie is terrifying in both plot and cinematography. The musical score is arguably the most effective and functional score in any horror movie. Audiences will find themselves crouching in their seats with every orchestrated song and sound effect. The wide shots and close-ups only helped further the disturbing narrative and add an intelligent, artistic element that is often lacking in modern thrillers.
The only problems with the film were the strange moments of comic relief and the not-so-surprising twist ending. The audience looks to the father of the film for witty quips and jokes throughout, but these jokes were poorly placed and pretty unrealistic. The lines are set at extremely suspenseful moments, and they made the movie feel a little too sitcom-ey at times. Realistically, who would have the time or the energy to make a dad joke while being hunted by vengeful clones? Although Peele himself is an impressive comedian, these jokes and quips felt a little forced.
The ending, unfortunately, served as another weak spot for the film. To spare you any spoilers, it seemed that Peele expanded the plot a little too widely. Again, the plot is very ambitious, and there are a few too many holes and unanswered questions to satisfy the audience. However, as a whole, Us is the psychological thriller of the year that will please any horror fanatic. The film is impressive in both form and content, and viewers will not be disappointed.