Set in present day along the iconic Northern California coastline, Us, from Monkeypaw Productions, stars Oscar® winner Lupita Nyong’o as Adelaide Wilson, a woman returning to her beachside childhood home with her husband, Gabe (Black Panther’s Winston Duke), and their two children (Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex) for an idyllic summer getaway.
Haunted by an unexplainable and unresolved trauma from her past and compounded by a string of eerie coincidences, Adelaide feels her paranoia elevate to high-alert as she grows increasingly certain that something bad is going to befall her family.
After spending a tense beach day with their friends, the Tylers (Emmy winner Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, Cali Sheldon, Noelle Sheldon), Adelaide and her family return to their vacation home. When darkness falls, the Wilsons discover the silhouette of four figures holding hands as they stand in the driveway. Us pits an endearing American family against a terrifying and uncanny opponent: doppelgängers of themselves.
What We Thought:
Us is really tough to review because the things I don’t like about the film are hard to discuss without spoiling the movie. I loved Get Out and Jordan Peele’s follow-up was a very highly anticipated movie for me, but unfortunately I walked out disappointed. I’ll try my best to not ruin anything for anyone reading.
I’ll start with the positives at least. The cast is fantastic. Lupita Nyong’o and Elisabeth Moss are always good. Nyong’o is the lead and plays a double role. She holds your attention throughout the film. The big surprise is Winston Duke. I pretty much only know him from Black Panther/Avengers: Infinity War, but he’s a scene stealer in this. Like Lil Rel Howery’s character in Get Out, Duke brings the comedic relief to a serious film as a living dad joke. Duke is a big dude, but comes across as a cuddly dad telling jokes that make his kids roll their eyes. I was really surprised at how funny/good he was.
The film looks and sounds great. Peele has some great action/horror sequences and you can see the influence that horror and things like The Twilight Zone had on him. Nothing about the filmmaking aspect of the movie is bad in the slightest. It has a good run time (although the very end felt a bit drawn out). It builds up tension well without over using jumpscares which I appreciate. So basically with the cast being good and the film production being good, that leaves the story.
That’s my biggest issue with the film and it’s hard to explain without spoiling. You obviously expect a big reveal or surprise if you’ve seen Get Out. Add in that this film has doppelgängers and you expect a reveal or explanation of those doppelgängers. That’s what ruined the movie for me. The explanation makes the first 2/3rds of the movie wrong. I can’t explain why or I’ll spoil it for you, but it reminds me of a time travel movie. This film has nothing to do with time travel, but you know how a movie like Looper or Source Code laid out its story and rules and then the ending comes along and just breaks all those rules? This does that in a way. Scenes you see in the beginning or middle of the movie, the way characters interact with one particular character don’t make sense after the reveal/twist. The doppelgängers act a certain way only when the movie needs them to and then completely forgets that they are supposed to be mimics. I really wish I could get into it more, but I can’t. There’s also a Hands Across America thing that seems completely unnecessary as well.
Us will make money. Get Out made a ton and a lot of people were anticipating this follow-up. I wish I liked it more, but it’s one of those movies the more you think about it, the more you see wrong. I was talking with a friend after the movie and he pointed out one scene that makes no sense after knowing the twist and we kept talking and came up with more. I’m still a fan of Peele’s even though I didn’t love this and still expect much bigger things in the future.