Jordan Peele’s Us pulls out all the stops, seamlessly blending a variety of horror tropes into one ingenious story.
The movie follows Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o), a woman who goes on vacation with her family to a cabin in the woods. The getaway turns terrifying as the family visits the beach in Santa Cruz where she first met her doppelgänger, Red, in a fun house as a child. When Adelaide’s family returns to the cabin, her doppelgänger — along with her own family of doppelgängers — follows the Wilsons home to kill them and take over their lives. Adelaide takes charge to protect her family as all the doppelgängers — who the government created to control its citizens — escape from an underground bunker and attempt to take over the U.S. in what they call the Untethering.
Similar to Get Out, audiences can’t pin down the exact horror category under which the movie falls. However, the smooth transitions from one type of horror to the next allows Us to spook most — if not all — scary movie fans.
From the trailer, the audience knows Us is about terrifying doppelgängers. Peele then meshes creepy carnival and forest settings, gore, and conspiracy theories with monster and apocalypse storylines, and ends it all with a thrilling twist.
One of the underlying cultural issues — which is even scarier than the horror plugs — is only cleverly and subtly mentioned throughout the movie: Men and the police fail to protect when they’re needed. The rest are left up to interpretation.
This allows Nyong’o’s characters, Adelaide and Red, to take the lead in their respective families, as well as in the movie. Adelaide decides where her family will run to escape the doppelgängers while Red’s family follows all of her commands to kill Adelaide’s family. The Wilsons also follow their matriarch as she kills doppelgängers and tries to survive the Untethering. Both Adelaide and Red are badass characters, and you can’t help but to like both of them. I still won’t ever be able to get Red’s creepy voice and eyes out of my head, though.
The entire casts’ ability to effortlessly switch from human to doppelgänger keeps you glued to the screen. The hip hop-based instrumental music helps maintain the thrilling atmosphere, while the gory special effects give the right amount of shock-factor that slasher fans enjoy.
With all the drama and bloodshed going down, Winston Duke brings the perfect amount of comic relief as Adelaide’s husband, Gabe Wilson. While it’s fun to watch him threaten, but fail, to beat the doppelgänger family, it’s refreshing to see Gabe trust his wife with protecting their family and dictating their next moves.
It’s exciting to see women and people of color hold powerful roles throughout the movie. This dynamic is set to make a lasting impression on audiences and an example for movies to follow.
In one word, Us is masterful.