Film review - Us

A scene from Us
A scene from Us

Jordan Peele's Us is, if nothing else, a cinematic experience.


Peele's first movie - 2017's Get Out - was a smash-hit: raking in the dough, winning Oscar gold and making everyone terrified of old white people. This is his sophomore film; but also his first film, in a way. It's his first movie with expectations and hype; which is often more dangerous to a film than rewarding.

With that in mind, this film, I feel, is destined for detestation.

It's a film so veiled in allegory and socio-political metaphor that I hope it will be debated and yelled about by Movie Nerds (not naming names... but me) for years to come. But no-one else cares: they want kitties to pounce from fridges and The Old Ghoolie-Ghost of San Maria the Third of Spain of the Spooky-spooks to don some creepy Nun-disguise and 'scare' the bejeezus out them. Nothing wrong with that; but Us isn't that.

The high-concept premise is eye-catching: an African-American family is hunted down by a family of vaguely-deformed doppelgangers, whose sole intent is to kill.

And like all good "Horror", the focus is on the stellar family dynamic.

Dodgy kid? Check!

Technology-obsessed teenager? Checkity-check!

Captain Dad-Jokes? Checkeroo!

Emotionally traumatised mother who will stop at nothing to save her children? Checka-checka-choo-choo!

While some of those archetypes may be cliche, the family's relationships are utterly authentic, with the entire cast giving phenomenal performances. However, Lupita "I will get you an Oscar if I have to steal it myself!" N'Yongo takes the cake: playing not one but two main characters distinctly, with an emotional undercurrent running through each.

And yet, it fails to follow to the kitties-pouncing, Nun-y standards of horror expected today - which are all people want.

There is a legitimately creepy hall-of-mirrors sequence opening the film and a poetic dance of death climaxing it, but in today's horror-climate that isn't deemed enough.

And even though I hate kitties pouncing from fridges (FOR NO REASON!) more than anyone else; I'll concede the horror doesn't work.

Regardless, Peele is still - and don't crucify me for the cliches - 'one ta watch!'.

His work, thus far, has been breathtakingly unique; and is a 'breath' of fresh air while I drown in the abhorrence of studio-led, kittie-pouncing quote-unquote "horror".

I've already summarised the cinematography and lighting, but to further elaborate: yes. And the score - oh my God, the score! - is simply remarkable. It's a pristine movie when viewed technically.

And so my ultimate recommendation for this film is to go see it and make up your own mind.

I will warn you that it is extremely strange, but a closer dive beneath the surface yields a film rich in thematic depth.

Is it a metaphor for the ongoing class divide? Or a commentary on our own inner demons?

Is Peele suggesting a rise in responsibility? Or is he attempting to discuss a decline in human morality?

Or is it something completely different?

I cannot answer those questions for you: and that is why I will champion this movie despite not totally loving it.

It at least tries to be different. And whether you love it, hate it or leave feeling mentally drunk - you will leave with a reaction.

And that, intrinsically, is the point of cinema: which I have no problem championing.