Welcome back to another #MillenialFriday We are celebrating because ya boy finally went to see a horror movie in theatres! I faced my own personal and Jordan Peele’s cinematic demons and saw Us. The horror flick has smashed opening weekend records for the genre with the help of yours truly and many, many others. Below is my review of the experience and very spoiler filled movie review.
****SPOILER ALERT**** I WILL NOT FEEL BAD NOW
This is spoiler filled so I am writing under the assumption that you have watched this movie. Sorry for the lack of a recap.
Us is a fantastic movie. I will start by saying that. I hate when I’m reading a review and halfway through I catch myself thinking, “Wait did they like this movie or not?” I’m sure there is a reason for that, but I don’t play that. It was a good movie. Was it Get Out? It was not, which brings me to my first point.
How infuriating must it be to be the auteur and creative mind behind the genre creating, generational hit Get Out, and then follow it with another nuanced, compelling film and have everyone be like, “Well it’s not good as the other one he already did.” Re-read that. HE ALREADY DID IT. Do you know how hard it is to make a movie? Let alone a good movie! And Jordan Peele has done that. Twice. I refuse to sandbag this performance based on the creators previous success. Us is good independent of Get Out. Us is very good.
As I alluded to, I do not go see horror movies. I don’t watch them on a sunny Saturday afternoon. They petrify me. So let’s take this moment, and only this moment, to nod to Peele’s previous work, as well as the editor that cut this trailer. Both were so well done that they have me in the theatre seeing a genre of film I am so shamelessly scared of. Now, it has been a while since I saw a horror film in theatres. I believe it was Rob Zombie’s Halloween and I left the theatre with my friend and her mother. When we got to her mother’s truck we heard on her mother’s police scanner that there was a murderer on the loose in the town I had just seen the movie about the murderer on the loose. So you can imagine my hesitation.
All that said, I forgot what seeing a horror movie in theatres means, horror movie trailers, including Pet Semetary and Midsommar. Congrats to the filmmakers on both of those projects because I will not be seeing either of those nightmares.
Now, to the movie I told you I was going to write about. I told you I liked it, now, why? First of all, this movie is rather quick to get to 100 and it stays the fuck there. Once the clones arrive and the tension is built, that tension sticks around until the final seconds and into the rolling of the credits. The acting in this movie is sensational. Lupita Nyong’o takes her rightful place as a lead actress and hits it out of the park. She places both protagonist and antagonist. She places caring mother and wife, as well as the evil clone that is tethered to her. She is at times both terrifying and scared. Sinister and courageous. A lesson to be taken from Us can be, we are our own worst enemy and Nyong’o shows just that as playing a character and that character’s polar opposite.
Never outdone, Nyong’o is given incredible support by Winston Duke. And goddamn, put Winston Duke in everything please. Also, playing the darker version of himself Duke’s performance shines in the conflicting nature of masculinity and the horror/comedy genre. He is the patriarch of his family, the one tasked with keeping his loved ones safe. He is vulnerable in showing he is scared to his family, and then immediately puts on a macho facade to show the attackers he means business. At one point he is calling out to the evil doppelgängers to let them know the police are on their way and his voice cracks. It’s subtle and perfect and shows he is scared even in his attempts to be brave.
Duke is also tasked with delivering most of the comedic lines in the movie. Give credit to the writing to make sure these lines are never delivered out of place, but give credit to Duke for reading them with the perfect tone so they don’t sound forced. There was plenty of room in this movie to make hacky, contrived jokes, and instead the Us takes a different approach in finding humor in a time of crisis. After boasting all movie about his new boat purchase, Duke finds himself fighting to evil clones and destroying two seperate boats. Once victorious, through huffed breaths, battered and bloodied, Duke walks up the dock and plainly announces, “I’m done with boats.” which is met with a theatre of laughter.
There has been much conversation and speculation about the overall metaphor tethered to Us. The conversation around America being incredibly polarized and one side being oblivious to how the other half lives, both politically and economically. The people living below the surface are starved and are angry and envious at the privileged people above them. The privileged higher-ups have no idea there are people beneath them starving and there is no communication between the two groups. I think all of these are well thought takes on the movie. I think Peele demonstrated a great understanding of the danger in ignoring those opposed to you.
Lastly, this movie is not without flaw. I understand that. If you have read anything else on Us, I’m sure you read about the twist ending. I think it was an incredible twist. At first viewing I was shocked. I did not see that coming. That said, I think it was a bit ambitious. While well executed, I think the twist ending was a little unnecessary and doesn’t make a ton of sense. At the end of the movie, we find out that Nyong’o’s character was actually switched with her clone during their first interaction with each other in the beginning of the movie when Nyong’o’s character was a child. Now, all of the notes left to explain that are smart.
Only Nyong’o’s clone can talk because she actually isn’t a clone at all. That makes sense. But at the end of the movie, Nyong’o looks at her son and he has a look on his face like he knows her secret. My question is, knowing that the woman we have thought was human this whole time is in fact a clone, what has changed? The clone has been living among people since 1986 (her first encounter with the surface world, when the switch happened). So, her husband is still the clone’s husband and her children are still the clone’s children. I don’t quite understand the implications on the family of Nyong’o actually being her clone-self if that is who she has been all along. I really hope that all made sense.
I recommend Us even for the non-horror fan. I enjoyed it. I was captivated the whole time, and maybe most importantly, I was entertained the whole time. If you are a horror fan you will enjoy this movie that was clearly made by a fellow horror fan. If you do not, I recommend this being your first. Because come on… you’ve already seen Get Out.