#REVIEW: “US” REVIEW
Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
Moments after opening my presents this past Christmas, I grabbed my phone and watched the gift Jordan Peele gave the Internet: the Trailer for his new Movie, Us. 150 seconds later, I knew the tale of a family being stalked and tortured by their mysterious doppelgängers had become one of my most anticipated films of the year. And after finally having the Film blasted into my eyeballs, it’s a great feeling to know my excitement did not go unrewarded.
In only his second Feature, Peele has delivered another incredible Horror film that grabs you immediately and never lets go. His mixtape of Home Invasion and Zombie Thrillers is wholly original and an instant classic. While Peele packs in plenty of social satire and dark humour, the Film is more of a viciously-violent Horror film than his Oscar-winning Get Out was. Whereas that Film was steeped in racial commentary, Us plays on social allegories related to humanity itself and the monsters within. We are our own worst enemies and Peele mines that ideology to amazing effect. His use of atmosphere and dread continues to be superb, but I was even more impressed by how Peele and Cinematographer Mike Gioulakis framed each scene. Whether it is an overhead shot of a family walking on a beach or an outdoor look at a family being attacked from all angles, it all looks fantastic.
And though I loved Michael Abels’ chilling Score, Peele’s use of well-known songs is even better. The way he repurposes a particular Beach Boys song will irrevocably destroy all of your happy memories of it.
The entire Cast is terrific, no matter their amount of screen-time. Elisabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker do great in supporting roles, and Winston Duke has a blast alternating between fear and hilarity. The child acting trio of Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex and especially newcomer Madison Curry are all magnificent in their dual roles, but they pale in comparison to Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o. She leads the Film with calculated precision, commanding the screen and the audience’s attention. Her dual role is among her best work, showcasing a range of terrifying emotions that go unrivaled. Her physical and deeply expressive work here is indescribably phenomenal and will positively send shivers down your spine.
The only real drawback I found with Us is how ambivalent I feel about the Film’s finale. Peele lays out just enough cards to explain what is going on, but holds a few back to leave some elements truly enigmatic. And while this is intentionally-frustrating and may turn off some viewers, I found some of the things he does unpack to be practically needless – as if Peele did not trust his audience to make all the necessary connections. I can understand his dilemma and wanting to have it both ways, but it makes for a film that does not come together as cohesively as it should. Repeat viewings will no doubt unearth new secrets, however I am not sure they will amend the ambiguities.
I watched Us last night and have not stopped thinking about it since. It is a relentless and horrific thrill ride that will keep you glued to your seat, breathlessly anticipating what happens next. This is so much more than elevated Horror – this is the kind of movie everyone working within the genre should always be striving to make. Minor frustrations aside, Peele has created another unbelievably-great film that will certainly find a spot on my year-end Top 10 list. And having Nyong’o’s brilliant dual performance at its centre makes Us an immediate must-see.
Universal Pictures Canada release US on Friday, March 22, 2019.