A family’s serenity turns to chaos when a group of doppelgängers begins to terrorize them.
It would be fair to say Jordan Peele’s follow up to his critically acclaimed and commercially successful debut ‘Get Out’ was eagerly anticipated and I’m pleased to say ‘Us’ meets and in some ways exceeds those expectations. This is another thrilling piece of filmmaking that sits most comfortably in the horror genre whilst also touching on other themes throughout. The film centres on a family who encounter a group of maniacal doppelgangers whilst on their summer holiday, and as the family try to escape the underlying social and political subtext starts to become more prominent within the narrative.
After a chilling opening at the reliably spooky location that is a fairground, the film introduces us to the Wilson family as they are heading off to Santa Cruz to spend the summer. The family are comprised of Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) and Gabe (Winston Duke), alongside their two children, Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex). For all intents and purposes they’re an ordinary family although Adelaide still carries the memory of the incident from her youth at the fairground, and returning to Santa Cruz brings those memories to the surface. After a tetchy day at the beach with some ‘friends’ (Elisabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker), the Wilson’s return home only to discover a strange family standing in their driveway and things take off from here. One of the things I liked about ‘Us’ was the time we spent with the Wilson family before the doppelgangers arrive, allowing us to get to know and like them, and also understand the distinct character traits that define each of them. Like ‘Get Out’, ‘Us’ proves Peele’s credentials as a supremely effective horror filmmaker, but also as a filmmaker who has a lot more to say for himself than to just scare the audience and he again uses the genre to explore deeper themes.
There’s so much going on under the surface with ‘Us’ that’s hard to unpack it all, and indeed at times it does feel like Peele is spinning too many plates, but my reading of it landed mostly on the political subtext about the current divides in modern day America. To be overly concerned with exactly what Peele is getting at is to somewhat miss the point however, in my opinion. It’s a film that sets out to both entertain and to make you think and ‘Us’ wholly succeeds in both of those aims, and I thought this was a terrific follow up and perhaps a film that will benefit from multiple viewings.
Directed By: Jordan Peele
Starring: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Evan Alex, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Anna Diop