By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
Brace yourself. Director/screenwriter “Jordan Peele’s
new horror film “Us”
is a jarring, psychological thriller that’s even more haunting and scary than his Oscar winning 2017 hit movie, “Get Out.”
While race is still a part of Peele’s narrative in “Us,” the movie also focuses on several other controversial and timely issues.
In “Us,” Oscar winning actress Lupita Nyong’o
(“12 Years a Slave”) is reunited with “Black Panther” star Winston Duke.
They play Adelaide/Red and Gabe Wilson/Abraham, a married couple with two pre-teen kids, Zora/Umbrae (Shahadi Wright Joseph, TV’s “Hairspray Live”/“The Lion King”) and Jason/Pluto (Evan Alex, TV’s “Kidding”).
The family is looking forward to vacationing at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Well, everyone except for Adelaide. As a kid she had a traumatic experience while inside the Boardwalk’s haunted mirror house and she hasn’t been able to shake it after all these years.
Although she’s back with her family, Adelaide still has an uneasiness about being in Santa Cruz despite their best friends Kitty Tyler/Dahlia (Elisabeth Moss, TV’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”) and her husband Josh/Tex (Tim Heidecker, “Ant-Man and the Wasp”) joining them.
Kitty and Josh are quite the couple. How they’ve managed to stay married this long without killing each other is anyone’s guess. It must be because of their cute, twin daughters Becca (Cali Sheldon) and Lindsay (Noelle Sheldon).
When Jason goes looking for the bathroom, he notices a bizarre figure plopped smack dab in the middle of the beach. Its hands are dripping with blood.
When Adelaide realizes Jason has been gone for some time, she starts to panic and all those emotions she had as a child come rushing back.
It’s just the beginning of the terror that is about to reign down on this family.
When the Wilsons arrive home and get settled in, they notice a family standing in their driveway wearing red clothes and each are holding a pair of big scissors. What’s odder is they look exactly like them.
Who are they? Where did they come from? What do they want?
Turns out these menacing intruders are doppelgangers. This is when “Us” just gets ridiculously good and creepy as the Wilson family’s evil dual personas take control.
Peele uses creative metaphors, a biblical reference—Jeremiah 11:11—rabbits, along with numerous layers of subtext, spot on humor and even music to ramp up this fright fest. I bet Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys couldn’t have dreamed their song, “Good Vibrations” or Oakland duo, The Luniz and their hip-hop gem “I Got Five on It” would take on such new meaning in a horror film no less.
There is so much going on in “Us” and even more to decipher. Not everything adds up perfectly, or at times adds up at all. Then again, maybe that’s all part of Peele’s master plan to get people talking and make the film open to various interpretations.
I’ll admit I like “Get Out” more than “Us,” but I have to say that Peele is slowly winning me over as a horror filmmaker. He’s bold and not afraid to shake up the genre.
Peele has stated in interviews that the inspiration for “Us” came in part from a “Twilight Zone” television episode called “Mirror Image.” That now makes me an even bigger fan. I’ll also be tuned in when Peele hosts and narrates “The Twilight Zone” reboot on CBS All Access starting April 1.
Still, I honestly didn’t think Peele could match the artistry of “Get Out.” but the guy sure does come awfully close with “Us.” I can’t wait to see his next big act.
Be sure to catch my N2Entertainment.net movie talk segment on the Kitty O'Neal Show Fridays now at 6:20 p.m. on radio station KFBK 1530 AM and 93.1 FM.
If You Can Stand It Check Out This Trailer For "US"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics’ Association (BFCA), The Black Film Critics Circle (BFCC), The Alliance Of Women Film Journalists (AWFJ) and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.