Jordan Peele (director)
1h 56mins (length)
21 March 2019 (released)
22 March 2019
Us is the sophomore effort from director Jordan Peele, whose breakout horror movie Get Out stunned Hollywood with hits huge success.
The film opens showing a young Adelaide (Madison Curry) in 1986 at the funfair at Santa Cruz beach with her unhappy parents, after her dad had won her a Michael Jackson Thriller T-shirt (that reference proving more than topical). Adelaide wanders off on her own and has a terrifying experience that now as an adult, played by Lupita Nyong’o, leaves her full of anxieties when it comes to watching over her own children.
Black Panther star Winston Duke is her husband Gabe Wilson, and the Wilsons head off for a vacation at their lakehouse, with kids, Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and younger brother Jason (Evan Alex).
The family arrive at their quaint summer cabin, but Gabe is keen to head further down to the coast to meet their friends, the Tylers (Elisabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker), and their two girls. A nervy Adelaide vetos the idea before opening up about her repressed childhood experience.
One detail she remembers from that night is a strange man on the pier holding a sign with the biblical reference Jeremiah 11:11. And when she sees the same man on the drive to the beach after she gives in to her husband’s pleas, she begins to feel increasingly anxious.
On the beach, they’re reunited with their friends, but Gabe is bothered that their car is nicer and they have a bigger cabin, in that never satisfied way that typifies modern life, while a nervy Adelaide can't relax.
When Jason heads off to the bathroom alone, Adelaide almost loses her mind when she thinks he’s been taken. He stumbles into a man, stood still, dripping with blood and carrying a Jeremiah 11:11 sign. The rattled mum grabs him and the family head home. But it’s not long before they’re confronted by another strange occurrence; a family that looks exactly like them dressed in a red jumpsuits, standing in their driveway each with a pair of gold scissors.
Little explanation is given as to who these mysterious visitors are, allowing your worst fears to run wild. And only Adelaide’s doppelganger can speak, and even then, her words sound guttural, as if she’s not used to speaking.
The vacation turns into a bloodbath as the mum and her family fight to survive the invaders, featuring musical accompaniments from N.W.A. and The Beach Boys.
Peele focuses less on jump scares, and more on the horror, and humour, as the tension increases until your stomach is in knots, aided by suitably creepy music composed by Michael Abels.
Lupita’s performance is an absolute tour de force. As both Adelaide and her doppelganger, she artfully creates two different people, with the vocals and body language to go with it, you almost forget there is technology involved when they are in the same scene.
A special nod goes to the young actors who play her children, especially Shahadi, who are similarly strong in tough roles.
The movie constantly pushes back against familiar stereotypes, with Adelaide making the decisions to protect her children and daughter Zora proving to be equally good on defence.
Things become a lot clearer in the third act, however, it does include quite a clunky piece of exposition by Adelaide’s doppelganger which could have been better handled.
While not as instantly well executed as Get Out, Us is a must-see film that presents you with a terrifying vision of what it’s like to confront a monster who looks just like you.