A Spoiler-Free Review of "Us"

After Jordan Peele’s success with Get Out, I was worried that his highly-anticipated sophomore film Us would be, frankly, disappointing. But as the credits rolled, I found myself stuck. Stuck in silence with my mouth slightly ajar, trying to wrap my mind around the last 116 minutes. But if I understood one thing, it was that Peele is anything but a one-hit wonder.

Us follows the Wilson family as they vacation at their summer beach house. But instead of riding the Ferris wheel at the boardwalk or indulging in ice cream on the beach, they spend their trip escaping from their worst fears — themselves. Played out like a home invasion, Wilson’s doppelgangers burst in and quickly assert their control, physically and psychologically. They call the shots.

On the most basic level (without spoiling anything), Us is a film about duality, in so many ways. Genre-wise, it is as horrifying as it is hilarious, with one-liners such as “kiss my anus” (because he cannot use curse words, such as “ass”) delivered by Jason Wilson (Evan Alex), Wilson’s young son. The 1995 Luniz hit “I Got 5 on It” first plays on the radio as they head to the beach, capturing a light-hearted moment between the family. But with some producing, the track gets flipped to sound much more ominous and cryptic, serving as the background music for a ballet number.

There is duality even down to the pop culture references laced throughout. In 1986, a young Adelaide Wilson (Madison Curry) wins a Michael Jackson “Thriller” t-shirt for her birthday, which immediately sets the tone, given recent sexual abuse allegations against Jackson. Although Peele did not anticipate this, he did not feel compelled to change the reference because not only does it represent the time, but it also represents the duality shown throughout as the “Thriller” music video features Jackson battling between a good and an evil side. And more obviously, it is about the duality of the human condition. For every Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o), there is a Red (also, Lupita Nyong’o), and so on.

I urge you to go see Us in theatres because the crowd makes all the difference. While some moviegoers may give you dirty looks for outwardly emoting, no one in this theater could hold back their screams. The crowd’s reactions heightened the tension of the film, anticipating any violence or surprises. It created a sense of camaraderie as applause erupted every time the good side succeeded, making even the little victories seem so much bigger.   

As Peele puts it, “We’re our own worst enemy.” If you want to find out how to win against yourself, and so much more, go see “Us.” You won’t be disappointed.

 

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