Movie Review: Us

Us is a horror film about a family on vacation, terrorized by mirror versions of themselves. It stars Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke, Elizabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, Shahadi Wright Joseph, and Evan Alex and is written and directed by Jordan Peele.

Jeremiah 11:11 appears on a sign held by a homeless man early in the film and is apropos for the plot, so I will include it here in its entirety: "Therefore thus saith the Lord, 'Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not harken unto them.'" That's the King James translation and it is a perfect distillation of what you are in for when you take on this film.

Us is world-building like is rarely seen outside of a franchise or previous intellectual property. It's dense and has its rules laid out before us, but like all good movies we don't know for sure until the very end what it all amounts to, what the game is. Though, I won't toot my own horn by saying this, but just put it forth as fact, I knew the ending after only a few clues.

Typically, knowing what will happen ruins everything for me, but it's different with Us. The film is such a unique vision and nightmare that knowing things about the end only heightens the drama and poses more questions. As soon as a detail is paid off, you see the pattern of the clues laid out before it and see the progress to that point and realize the incredible, conversation between script, actor and director. Jordan Peele is an incredibly gifted story teller who maintains his indelible style and incredible visual talent with Us.

Though, I will say as much as I loved the humor in this film, I felt it was far too much in some scenes. The tension and adrenaline will ratchet up, but sometimes suddenly cut apart with some humor and then a full gag. The film is very funny, it's never not welcome, but I wanted to stay in the tense headspace more. I just felt the balance was off without falling too far into the horror comedy genre completely. What saves it continuously from going off the rails are the performances.

Every character who has an alter ego as presented does an incredible double act of playing both characters, but none so well as our main characters of Adelaide and Red played by Lupita Nyong'o. Her physicality is so impressive from her facial expressions to her movements based on both being former ballet dancers. Not to mention her outstanding vocal presentation for Red. It's an other worldly voice made for a human of ill-intent. Though, Nyong'o holds the true horror of the story in her eyes as they either widen with fear or with the anticipation of completion. She's unhinged and exceptional in every way. See the film if only to take in the stunning Nyong'o

It would require too much context, and definite spoilers, to delve into any of my favorite scenes, so I will just say, Us is a visual and mental treat. It hits so many great buttons and once you get your bearings it will demand repeat viewings because it is so dense and narratively complex that you will want to belly laugh and be terrified again and again. I highly recommend seeing it with an audience as what's happening on screen is just as great as what can happen with the people around you.

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