After the success of his debut film, “Get Out” director Jordan Peele returns with a new nightmare.
American family, Adelaide and Gabe Thomas, take their two children to a beach in Santa Cruz. However, the beach is the source of a traumatic incident from Adelaide’s childhood. When a family of doppelgängers, known only as the Tethered, attempt to terrorize her family, what began as her paranoia tricking her descends into an apocalyptic chase that leads to a dark secret hidden underground.
Right out of the gate, Lupita Nyong’o delivers a dual performance that makes the film worth the price of admission. It felt as though Adelaide and her Tethered counterpart were two separate entities without coming across as gimmicky. Since so many people lobbied for Toni Collette to be nominated for her performance in “Hereditary,” Lupita deserves the same amount of hype for next year’s Oscars.
The rest of the cast was also great. Winston Duke fits the “cornball dad” role to a T, and the child actors did surprisingly well with the material given to them. Elisabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker play the Tylers, who mainly exist to be killed later on, as shown in the trailers.
Like his first social thriller, Jordan Peele tries to recapture the inherent evil of humanity and American society in “Us.” However, where his first film succeeded is how it presented its message.
“Get Out” captured the intricacies of liberal racism in modern-day America, but Jordan Peele kept the message within the audience’s grasp. While viewers could pick up on the social commentary, they were thoroughly engaged by the message to want to seek out hidden details. The characters also had stronger connections to one another, which made the emotion and scares genuine.
“Us” attempts to do so with a broader scope, and it succeeds in some areas. However, the dense amount of motifs and symbolism overshadow the message. Most audiences are not interested in interpreting a film’s plot unless it gives them a reason to. While I was engaged enough to look deeper into the story, other viewers may feel stonewalled.
The family, while enjoyable to watch thanks to its talented cast, lacks any connection to one another. One could argue that it ties into the twist at the end involving one of the character’s true identities. However, the film would have been more intense if the stakes felt higher. For a movie that is meant to be about being your worst enemy, the characters did not feel deep enough to convey that subconscious terror.
Watch the trailer for ‘Us’ below.
The twist at the end of the film does leave depressing implications for the Tethered and their true intentions. However, we do not know enough about the family or the capabilities of their counterparts to process the full impact. Instead of spelling out the ending to the audience, why not leave it ambiguous? Why not spend a more considerable amount of time characterizing the opposing sides so it can feel as though something was truly lost or gained by the end?
If you are looking for a good horror film, I would recommend “Us.” However, if you are expecting strong horror elements and effective social commentary, I would revisit Peele’s first film and leave this one in the sunken place.