Us, Jordan Peele’s follow up to his 2017 directorial debut Get Out just hit theaters, and with its release, he proves that his first film was no fluke. Peele’s new movie raked in $70 million its opening weekend, making it the best opening for an original-horror movie ever, and for good reason.
Us tells the story of a family on vacation at their beach house in Santa Cruz. Their seemingly happy vacation takes a dark turn when a family of their doppelgängers appears and begins to terrorize them. With a premise straight out of a nightmare, this film works to both frighten audiences as well as keep them enthralled.
Black Panther co-stars Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke are the film’s protagonists, starring as a married couple with two kids, played by Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex. Since the movie features identical characters, every actor also plays their evil counterpart. Nyong’o reminded audiences why she’s already an Oscar-winner, and Duke showcased his range, providing both laughs and screams for viewers. My favorite performance, however, came from Shahadi Wright Joseph, who plays Zora (the daughter) as well as her counterpart. Movies often portray teenagers as one-dimensional stereotypes, but she was able to break this mold and deliver a memorable performance.
From the very start, Us is a heart-racer, and once it kicks into full gear it simply never stops. In many ways, this film feels like a roller coaster that you have never been on; it continuously subverts expectations and has your emotions all over the place. The wide range of emotions that you experience while watching was my favorite element of the movie. One moment I was laughing and the next I was cowering, as Us so seamlessly switched between comedy and horror to make for an entertaining in-theater experience.
For those worried that this film would simply be a knock-off or a sequel of sorts to Get Out, I assure you that could not be further from the truth. Us is both wildly original and is in no way a sequel to Get Out. However, Peele utilizes everything that made Get Out so entertaining and ups the ante. The comedy is funnier, the action is more intense, and most importantly, the horror is a great deal scarier than it was in Get Out.
Although Peele builds upon a lot of what made Get Out so great, I can’t help but feel as though the subtlety and slow build-up of his first film is exactly what made it that great. I left Get Out with a lot fewer questions and with a more lingering sense of terror. Comparing the two, I definitely would say I enjoyed Get Out more and thought it to be a better film. However, Us remains strong on its own, and I believe that with more viewings it’ll only get better.
Peele’s direction was also something to admire about Us. Everything from the camera angles to the prop choices felt so deliberate and carefully orchestrated. Each shot seems so artfully crafted and works to add more suspense and completely immerse the viewer in the horrifying events they got to witness on screen. Also, the soundtrack of the film was both memorable and vital, as the songs almost acted as characters in the way that they set the mood perfectly for each scene.
Us gives you everything that you want in a horror film and a little more. I’d recommend seeing it in a packed crowd, as the audience interaction with the movie was really fun and added an enjoyable element to the viewing experience. I’m also excited to see the fan theories surrounding the film, and I can’t wait to rewatch it to come up with some of my own.
With an Oscar-winning first film and a record-breaking sophomore outing, it begs the question: just how high is the ceiling for Peele’s career? This question may take years to answer, but I am excited to go on the cinematic journey with him.
Also, for any Peele fans out there: you won’t have to wait much longer for more content, as he returns to television this April with his revival of The Twilight Zone.
COVER PHOTO: Fandango