Friday, March 22, 2019

Us - Review

The world has no shortage of exciting and fresh directors coming from all corners and backgrounds, and Jordan Peele may just be at the top of that list. His debut film Get Out was a critical and financial hit, earning Peele an Oscar for Original Screenplay and a growing list of unique projects. However, avoiding a sophomore slump is not an easy thing to do, plenty have slipped up on their second go around in the director’s chair, but Jordan Peele is definitely not one of those people. 

Accompanied by her husband, son and daughter, Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o) returns to the beachfront home where she grew up as a child. Haunted by a traumatic experience from the past, Adelaide grows increasingly concerned that something bad is going to happen. Her worst fears soon become a reality when four masked strangers descend upon the house, forcing the Wilsons into a fight for survival. When the masks come off, the family is horrified to learn that each attacker takes the appearance of one of them.

Us is nothing if not unique. The premise of the film combines a handful of horror scenarios into one story that delivers on the horror, suspense, and sheer terror that one might want. However, it is far from a simplistic endeavor. There are layers upon layers of thought provoking ideas and themes that make Us truly stand out. Its complexity warrants multiple re-watches just to get every little subtle detail buried beneath the surface.

On another note, the performances from the principal cast follow much of the film’s predetermined notion of hiding bits of nuance beneath the over the top natured elements. Well, at least this is true in the case of Lupita Nyong’o. Don’t get me wrong, the entire cast does a fantastic job pulling double duty, particularly Winston Duke showing off his comedic chops and leading man skills as the father in both families, but Nyong’o is on an entirely different level.

It’s absolutely astounding that it took this long after her Oscar win for 12 Years a Slave for the actress to land a leading role, and after seeing the film, I doubt she has trouble anymore. She is obviously haunting as a twisted and maniacal version of the main character; however, the traumatic life of Adelaide is never lost in the more “normal” role either. It is such a stellar performance, and one that hopefully sticks around long enough to get all the awards it deserves.

The level of suspense on display here from Jordan Peele is masterful. Flat out, undeniably masterful work in this film. From the sound and the music, to the camera work that so elegantly showcases the inherent creepy vibe of your twisted doppelgänger coming to find you, each piece of this film is incredible from a technical standpoint. Add in questions of self and the psychological terror that brings to the table, and Us may just garner the title of masterpiece.

Us will be compared to Get Out for the foreseeable future, and though it's understandable to look at the creative man behind and think about his work, the two are very different films. Us is haunting, a meditation on psychological questions that everyone faces wrapped in a home invasion, doppelgänger, horror film. Lupita Nyong’o absolutely should get many awards for her performance here, a performance that lingers for days in this particular viewer’s mind. Us is an absolute must see, and preferably more than once.

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