Imagine living in a world where your nightmares can very well be your reality, and a coincidence is all but a coincidence. Imagine if there was another you, not the person hidden within your subconscious nor the one hidden within the confines of your home. No. Imagine a real, living reflection of yourself that wants nothing more than to take your place in society, as it quietly lurks in the shadows waiting for its chance to strike. This is the nightmarish scenario the Wilson family face in Jordan Peele’s latest horror film, Us. As the film unfolds, a striking twist is revealed, and the audience’s view of the American society and its government is brought into question.
The story begins in 1986, centering on young Adelaide’s (Madison Curry) family enjoying a trip to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, but things go awry when Adelaide wanders off. She enters a rundown hall of mirrors, where she stumbles upon a living nightmare, her doppelganger. This encounter appears to traumatize her to the point she can’t even talk to her parents about it. Years later, now accompanied by her husband (Winston Duke), daughter (Shahadi Wright), and son (Jason Wilson), Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) begrudgingly returns to the same beach that plagued her childhood, with no choice but to face her nightmare or perish.
Audiences will immediately notice the larger scope and the outright bigger focus on physical horror elements in Us. The doppelgangers known as the Tethered have a cruel, and twisted look to their features that represent their harsh living conditions, yet they are very much human like us. The second thing audiences will notice is is the tone of Us, compared to Get Out, Us is more entertaining in the way it approaches physical and psychological horror. This entertainment factor could largely be contributed to the humor built around the Wilson family, and the enticing score and soundtrack featuring iconic 1990s hits, like Luniz’s “I Got 5 On It”, and NWA’s “Fuck The Police” which are played to full effect.
Furthermore, the acting range of Nyong’o as she plays not only Adelaide but her vengeful doppelganger, Red, is the highlight of Us. Rest assured you have never seen Nyong’O in a role like this, which makes you question: Why hasn’t she been given more lead roles? She steals the show in several scenes, but Duke hot after his role of M’baku in Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther, hams it up as the corny dad, and yes, his “dad bod” is played up to full comedic effect.
Of course, the main reason Peele’s work deserves praise is his willingness to tackle racial, social, and political issues plaguing American society, and Us is no exception. Without approaching spoiler territory, Us, like its predecessor Get Out, will be discussed throughout the year for its hard-hitting themes, questions, and controversial ending.
Several years ago, the titles “horror master” or “director to watch” is something we wouldn’t have quite associated with the comedian-actor, but such titles now feel appropriate to use. It is no easy feat to produce an original horror film, yet to live up to the pressure of his first feature film, and deliver another stellar production deserves tremendous praise. What makes Us even more incredible is that Peele wrote, directed, and produced it. The year is 2019, and thanks to auteurs such as Peele, we are witnessing a Horror Renaissance.