Us Movie Review
Welp, Us is pretty freaky. Jordan Peele’s follow-up to the superb Get Out largely lives up to the hype, and thankfully most people won’t refer to this one as a “social thriller.” About a family who are hunted by their deranged doppelgangers, Us is an entertaining, creepy, and oft riveting horror-thriller that doesn’t always work as well as it should—but undoubtedly will be regarded as a classic in the years to come.
Lupita Nyong’o flexes her acting muscles in this one, playing both a caring but psychologically scarred mother and a twisted, throat-talking monster. Nyong’o is absolute aces as she carries the film from start to finish.
But Peele is the master craftsman here, once again integrating a sharp, cutting script with crisp, purposeful camerawork, and fantastic use of music and ambient noise. Us is no Get Out, nor should the two be compared (but they will be anyway for obvious reasons), but it’s proof that Jordan Peele isn’t a one-hit wonder.
The story alone is engrossing from the first scene, largely unpredictable aside from one “twist” that isn’t quite as effective as Peele probably thought at the time. The doppelgangers are horrifying villains, ruthless and uncompromising as they come, and Peele uses them to great effect throughout the film. The story unfolds in imaginative ways, taking a few satisfying turns you won’t expect. And scene by scene, Peele ratchets up the tension, driving you to the edge of your seat in anticipation.
Some aspects of the film don’t entirely work. While Peele maintains a moderate level of humor throughout—even though Us feels much more like a “serious” horror movie than Get Out ever was—Winston Duke’s character is often obnoxious, the kind of idiot who has no right surviving past the first scene in a horror movie. Duke plays his character well, but at times seems to be operating in a different film entirely.
More importantly, the climax is the weakest part of the film—not that Peele’s vision isn’t legitimately grand, but that he leaves more questions than answers, or that it simply feels half-assed. That’s not fair to say as nothing about the film is taken lightly, but Peele throws so much at you in the film’s final minutes, very little of it making full sense, that it became harder to remain invested in the outcome. To avoid spoilers I won’t go into detail, but the source of the doppelgangers is more confounding than breathtaking, Peele’s hints at something bigger only alluded to in unsatisfying ways.
As unpredictable as Us is, the film’s final twist doesn’t entirely work either, both because it’s rather obvious from early on and doesn’t really affect the two preceding hours.
Us isn’t perfect, but it’s an exciting, intense, entertaining, and most of all unique horror movie that deserves multiple viewings and even more accolades.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.