I was so excited to see “Us.”
The trailer previewed what looked to be another great film from writer and director Jordan Peele. Unlike Peele’s 2017 debut “Get Out,” “Us” looked to be more of a traditional horror film. After watching the trailer, featuring Winston Duke singing “I Got 5 on It” by Luniz, I thought “Us” was going to be my favorite movie of 2019.
That’s why I felt extra disappointed when I walked out of the theater confused and underwhelmed.
The movie has a lot going for it, complete with an eerie, frightening score from composer Michael Abels, beautiful framing from cinematographer Mike Gioulakis and stand out performances from both Lupita Nyong’o and Duke.
However, it just had too many plot holes and confusing moments that completely took me out of the story.
The film follows the Wilsons, comprised of Nyong’o, Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex, as they go on a beach house vacation. The vacation is cut short after an identical family of doppelgängers show up in their driveway, wielding scissors and fire pokers to terrorize and attack the Wilsons.
With most movies, the director wants audiences to suspend their belief and live in the world he or she created for you. While watching “Us,” I just had too many unanswered questions to do this.
In the critically-acclaimed “Get Out,” Peele hooked audiences from the beginning with an interesting, mysterious story. Despite the mystery, the narrative still felt complete by the time the credits rolled. When I finished watching it, I felt like all of my questions had been answered and the story was satisfying.
With “Us,” many questions go unanswered and the ending feels unsettling. Without going into spoiler territory, I will say there is a twist toward the end of the film that feels unearned and almost forced. It just didn’t sit right with me, and after a few days of reflection I’m still unsure if it was the best way to end the movie.
The film’s plot, although original and entertaining, does not feel very fleshed out. When watching “Get Out,” Peele’s passion for the story is visible, and you can tell a lot of effort went into his edits. He even won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
With “Us,” it seems like Peele was rushed in his writing process. Information that feels important to the audience is just left out. An underground civilization created by the government, which fuels the plot, largely goes unexplained.
While I don’t see Peele being nominated for any Oscars for “Us,” Nyong’o just might be. Her portrayal of both Adelaide Wilson and her doppelgänger, Red, is astounding. She brings so much emotion and nuance to the role, and her character is what keeps the audience enthralled throughout the film.
Duke also shines in his roles, playing both doppelgänger Abraham and Gabe Wilson. He brings some much needed humor to the dark, eerie movie. It amazes me that this is only his third feature film, with “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War” being the first two. Duke balances heavy emotions with humorous line delivery, and it works so well in this movie.
Before the movie’s widespread release, Peele took to Twitter, saying “‘Us’ is a horror movie.” It lived up to his promise.
The movie is genuinely scary at points and doesn’t rely solely on jump scares and loud noises to put audiences on edge. Peele is a master of suspense and knows how to use things such as silence and background noise to build tension.
Before this movie, I never thought I could be horrified while listening to the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations,” but Peele proved me wrong. “Us” offers a lot of moments like this, where happy, comforting feelings are instantly juxtaposed with blood and gore.
While “Us” didn’t live up to the high expectations surrounding it, it still is a win for Peele. He couldn’t overcome his sophomore slump and make a movie that tops his masterpiece “Get Out,” but Peele solidified himself as the new king of horror and is helping the genre be taken seriously by both critics and audiences alike.
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