In case you didn’t hear, this weekend Jordan Peele returned to theatres with his second feature film in as many years, Us. After the critical and monetary success of his directorial debut, 2017’s Get Out, he’s once again joining forces with Blumhouse Productions (also recently producing Glass and BlackKklansman) to give us a slow-burn horror movie. But does it live up to its predecessor?
Unfortunately, I don’t think so. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a terrible movie, in fact it is a really good, quality film. But I think Get Out was more vivid in its plotline and had a more pronounced finale. I don’t mean to compare a director’s only two films, and these are two incredible achievements, because his are very different from one another. But this film leaves the viewers with a lot of loose threads to try to explain and tie together at its conclusion. That’s not always a bad thing, as referenced in movies like Hereditary and Inception, but here I felt like Peele teases us with a brief description of his plot, and then leaves you guessing as he shoots the final sequence. But there was a lot that I enjoyed about this film too. Allow me to dive in a bit for you.
The movie centers around a family of 4 and their trip to the beach. Staying in mom’s childhood home, we very soon start following mom as she re-lives past memories and struggles with current coincidences. And then they show up. A family that looks just like them. And the others apparently don’t want there to be duplicates, so they begin what they refer to as “the untethering.” Creepy. Anyway, the plot continues to focus on the mom as they fight to survive, with some twists and turns leading to a shocking discovery.
Things that I liked about the movie: 1) Lupita Nyong’o. She is to this film what Daniel Kaluuya was to Get Out. Phenomenal acting. Seriously, just the best. Playing dichotic roles must be difficult, but she makes it look so easy. In fact, all four family members are great in that way. 2) The camerawork. The way that Peele shoots the movie is one thing it has going for it in the horror genre. It makes you feel like you’re there, experiencing the horror with them, as the camera bounces down stairs and turns around corners. It’s something that makes certain movies stand out among the rest. 3) It hits horror tropes, but also toys with them. There are jump scares, and then there are times when he pulls away from scaring you. Much more common is just the sheer feeling of terror. There’s slashing and blood, but it’s more poetic. There’s a “final girl.” The characters find themselves “abandoned.” I’m being vague and using quotes so I don’t have to give plot points away, you can thank me later 😉 Finally, 4) The building suspense. For the entire first act, and even some of the second, the tension was the best part. I really wished he would have held that tension for longer though, as his comedic relief got in the way. It took me way out of the horror genre, which I simply didn’t want or need. When I go to see a horror film, I dont expect to laugh. To me, it was unwelcoming and unnecessary, but also I recognize it as a different, (maybe even new?) form of horror. He always maintained the suspenseful undercurrent, which I did appreciate.
The movie got a bit weird, and like I said, I don’t think it ties the bow as neatly as Get Out did, but all in all it was a “horror” film that worked for me. I think Jordan Peele has a strong future, but I’d like to see him cut some of the comedy out of future horror films. I always advocate to see the horror genre in theatres because you get to see other people jump and scream too, but this would also be a fine movie to wait for Redbox or streaming if that’s your jam 🙂 Thanks for reading, I’ll be back soon with another streaming series review, as well as a review of one of my most anticipated films of the year, Dumbo, which hits theatres this coming week! Cheers!