Following his debut Oscar-winning film “Get Out,” the expectations for Jordan Peele’s new movie “Us” could not have been higher. Unfortunately for Peele and audiences, however, “Us” fails to meet the bar set by its predecessor.
“Us” begins with a seemingly regular family vacationing at their Santa Cruz beach house. However, upon the arrival of their own murderous doppelgängers wearing red jumpsuits and brandishing large scissors, the family vacation quickly turns into a family nightmare. Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o plays the mother of the family while Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex play the father, sister and brother, respectively. Each family member also plays their own doubles as well.
With the establishment of likable characters as well as some inspired cinematography from Mike Gioulakis, the film starts off really strong. However, after the initial home invasion from the family’s doppelgägers, “Us” struggles with its tone and pacing.
Having spent a large portion of his career in sketch comedy, Jordan Peele is no stranger to making people laugh, and the comedy at the beginning of the film is well suited. However, once everything starts going wrong, it becomes pretty jarring to cut from a close up of a sobbing Nyong’o fearing for her children’s lives to the family joking about their kill counts of the day. Walking the line between comedy and horror isn't an easy thing to do; where “Get Out” succeeded in this regard, “Us” ultimately failed.
There's also an extremely present issue of stakes in this movie. The evil family’s initial attack is captivating but afterward, there's very little tension. You never feel like the family is ever in any particular danger, and the plot becomes so convoluted that it’s hard to be scared when you’re just trying to figure out what’s going on. Generally, there's very little horror in this horror movie, and it will be interesting to see if, like “Get Out,” the general perception of the film’s genre changes from horror to thriller.
The biggest issue with this film ultimatly results from the plot itself. As the movie progresses, the circumstances become harder and harder to follow, and it seems as if the film is riddled with plot holes.
“Us” isn't a bad film. The acting is really strong and there are some really great moments. There's just a general lack of clarity of what is being said. While “Get Out” was extremely layered and rich with subtext, “Us” seems to glance over topics, such as consumerism and class, without really saying anything. Jordan Peele is quickly becoming one of the biggest filmmakers in the industry, and I have no doubt that he will continue to make truly important films in the future. “Us” just wasn't one of them. [Rating: C-]
This is the opinion of Cormac Dolezal, a sophomore film and television production major from Woodbury, MN. Tweet comments to @cormacdolezal or email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.