Don’t Trust Yourself (Us, 2019)

But I care about love
I care about truth
And I care about trust
And I care about you
I care about us

~Michael Been, Us, On the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough, 1994

Us_PosterGet Out made people step back and reassess their perception of Jordan Peele.  Known for his comedy work, the biting horror thriller that took aim at white liberal racism, viewers took notice.  For a lot of this, that made us want to see what came next.  And the fact that he had more ideas in the realm of horror no longer seemed a question.

Going deeper down the horror rabbit hole, Us tells the story of young Adelaide. In the eighties, her parents take her to the Santa Cruz beach. She wanders away from her parents and enters a strange hall of mirrors. There, she meets a little girl who looks exactly like her. She is traumatized by the event.  The film picks up years later with Adelaide, now married to Gabe, on their way to the family cabin with her children. When they go to the beach, her son Jason disappears briefly, causing a dread in Adelaide.  And with good reason.  That night, they find themselves under siege by…themselves.  A warped set of duplicates seemingly full of malicious intent.

Saying much more just gives away the film.  Astute viewers will likely start to put things togethers fast and start seeing where the story is going. Others will be blindsided.  Unlike Get Out, Peele has formulated a far more… complex plot.  The twists and turns start coming fast after the initial frights of the home invasion.

Peele has a terrific eye, and the film is a visual feast.  There is, for instance, a really nice arial shot looking down on the family as they walk along the beach, attached to their shadows. He and his team of film makers use light and shadow masterfully to create discomfort and fear. In one scene, a person appears from the shadows of the background seamlessly.

You cannot ignore the performances here.  Everyone has a dual role…and pretty much everyone gets to shine. The doppelgängers are chilling in their simple outfits and creepy makeup. Lupita Nyong’o is especially compelling, with her dual role.  Red speaks in a disturbed creaky voice and moves in ways that are psychologically unnerving.

One of the things that makes the film so effective is how much I found myself liking the family.  They draw you into their world making it impossible not to become invested in their survival.

Some have suggested Us marks the reveal that the director Peele most reflects is M. Night Shyalaman.  And while I did not really see it in my viewings, I get what people are saying, mainly in the fact that this is a film with some big ideas that then throws a lot of twists and turns, yeah. But I am inclined to agree with the people who are saying this is a good thing, that this shares more in common with Shyalaman’s best work.

People who are bothered by smaller questions with struggle hard here.  The film aims big, but leaves some stuff off.  Because, honestly…where do the doppelgängers all get their matching red outfits is not important to the story.

Us is a terrific follow up to Get Out, and Jordan Peele has delivered a new an original vision.

 

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