Directed by: Jordan Peele
Starring: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex
Runtime: 121 minutes
This week we delve into the horror genre. I want to preface this review with a comment on horror. In my opinion, everyone’s fear is different. Some are afraid of the “boogeyman”, some afraid of the future, the “big picture” and some are just afraid that their partner will never share the covers at night. I’ve always loved horror films and Halloween is my favorite holiday. My mom likes to jump out behind doors and wear creepy masks in an attempt to scare me anytime I’m there. Yes I’m currently on blood pressure medicine.
On to the film.
Us is directed, written, and produced by Jordan Peele. That name may sound familiar to you because of his debut film Get Out that was also in the horror genre, and was nominated for Best Picture at the 2018 Academy Awards. His follow-up “Us” clearly has high expectation and I believe they met, if not exceeded them. Again we come to a film with a bigger meaning (most good films should be layered like this.) In Us, we are asked the question. Who are you?
The story starts in Santa Cruz, California in 1986. Immediately, I noticed a retro feel as the film focuses on a young girl named Adelaide enjoying the boardwalk with her family. We then notice a man holding a sign with “Jeremiah 11:11” written on it. Jeremiah 11:11 states, “Therefore thus saith the LORD: ‘Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto Me, I will not hearken unto them.” I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound to promising. Adelaide stumbles upon a maze called Vision Quest with the a sign stating “Find Yourself.” We see Adelaide venture in as she comes upon an EXIT sign. This is where the horror started for me. I can remember going through haunted houses and seeing EXIT signs thinking take it. Take the exit. This is a trap.
We then are taken to present day, an adult Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) her husband Gabe (Winston Duke) and two children Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex) are on a vacation to Santa Cruz. From here we get a mix of genres, part comedy with Gabe, who plays the middle-aged dad who still thinks he’s funny with charm, and also part horror as something seems amiss. The music instills a slow dread and worry in the viewer which plays throughout the film. We are then treated to flashbacks of Adelaide as a child as the time in the maze has had ill effects. From here the movie shifts into your classic horror film. Instead of one “boogeyman” we are treated to four, who happen to look exactly like our protagonists. The music again is fantastic and helps create the dread we are to feel going forward.
The real stars of the show have to be Nyong’o and the two children. As Nyong’o plays both the protagonist and antagonist her acting is outstanding. The children and mainly their doppelgangers are incredibly creepy and Jason (Evan Alex) has a lasting effect with his look and demeanor. We are treated to a superb monologue by Nyong’o and several scenes that play with lighting (one only lit by a match) that look and feel classic yet fresh. My favorite scene had to be towards the end where the action is played over Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys.
Overall, the most exciting part of the film was the message about finding yourself. We see the characters blending the lines between good and evil and I came to the conclusion that nothing is as black and white as it seems. We are all a mix of our emotions and actions. It also brings up a question of how far would you go for your loved ones?
I hesitate to give a rating on this film. I personally enjoyed it. It was a mix of classic horror with a enough “ deep meaning” that conversations will arise after viewing it. Each person’s idea of horror is different. I didn’t necessarily find the film “scary” but there were a few jump-scares and the comedy mixed well all things considered. Given the excellent score that helps shape the scenes, the lighting, humor and acting. I’d recommend going out for a date night and DON’T spoil it for others. 4 1/2 Stars out of 5 #SHOPLOCAL.
Andrew McManus is Operations Manager for Patties & Pints and its parent company Eflow Development. He can be reached at [email protected] or 740-285-1778.