*This trailer includes scenes of a disturbing nature.
I’ve never been particularly great with horror. Shaun Of The Dead scared me for god’s sake. I watched The Sixth Sense when I was fourteen and spent the next two days thinking about basically nothing else. It’s not that generic horror scares me (although I’m squeamish when it comes to gore, I only got through the first half hour of Final Destination), it’s that the concepts actively stew in my mind. To me, that is a sign of when a horror film is good. So when I say that Us is one of the creepiest films I’ve ever seen and that it’ll stick in your mind for days, possibly weeks afterward, I mean it.
The premise of Us is a simple one. What if there was a sadistic, murderous version of all of us? What would happen then? It’s from this simple concept that Us blossoms and becomes one of the most sinister pieces of entertainment I’ve ever seen. Jordan Peele seems to have a knack for horror. Imagine if you’d told somebody back in 2012 that one half of Key and Peele would be making some insanely good films. They’d think you were insane, especially when you told him the genre they’d specialise in wouldn’t even be comedy.
Thanks to her dual performance in this, Lupita Nyong’o has become one of my favourite actresses working in the industry. Prior to this, I’d only seen her in Black Panther, which didn’t really let her flex her acting muscles. This, however, does. She plays both the main character and the main villain and I don’t think I’ve seen a better dual performance from anybody. Hell, basically every cast member in this movie plays multiple roles, and all do it spectacularly. Winston Duke, in particular, manages to play both a lovable, normal father and a creepy, homicidal maniac with ease. Us also has two child actors that I don’t hate, which is a rare occurrence. Usually, child actors annoy and irritate me to no end, but here they’re actually great, with compelling performances and great line delivery. And yes, the child actors also play doppelgangers of themselves. And yes, it’s unsettling to watch.
So what kind of horror can you expect from Us? Well, it’s a mixture. There’s a couple of jump scares throughout, but it’s not overly reliant on them like other horror films tend to be. Us mainly tries to spook its audience through the horror of the situation itself and the themes and ideas that are present throughout. Peele is a brilliant director, able to weave themes of existentialism and the nature of humanity itself into a simple horror structure without it seeming too obvious or overbearing. You’ll walk away from this film doubting yourself, doubting who you are and what you are.
My only real issues with the film is that it drags a bit during the second act, seemingly attempting to pad the runtime, but that can be forgiven for how good the rest of the film is. What cannot be forgiven however, is how rushed the ending is. It just feels like the film could have used the ending as a launchpad towards even more interesting ideas if it had instead been a scene towards the end of the second act.
Us is a brilliant piece of cinema, an excellent sophomore film by Jordan Peele and a mostly satisfying story. It’s worth watching for any horror fan and you can probably expect to see Academy Award nods for this next year.