Two years after his Oscar win for Best Original Screenplay for the film Get Out, Jordan Peele returns to cinemas with the excellent horror film Us from Universal Pictures. Once again, Peele takes on writing and directing duties, and his sophomore effort is a vastly different film than his debut. Us opens with a young Adelaide Thomas (Madison Curry) enjoying an evening with her parents (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Anna Diop) at the boardwalk in Santa Cruz. The curious Adelaide wanders off on her own and experiences a traumatic event.
Thirty-three years later, Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) has a family of her own, which includes her husband, Gabe (Winston Duke), daughter Zora (Shahadi Wright) and son Jason (Evan Alex). The family currently on a beach vacation meets up with their friends the Tylers (Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, and Cali Sheldon & Noelle Sheldon) for some fun in the sun. When Jason wanders off, some of Adelaide’s repressed memories awaken. Much to Gabe’s annoyance, Adelaide decides she wants to leave but before the Wilson clan can depart, strangers attack the house.
To the Wilson’s family shock, the strangers are actually their doppelgangers. Adelaide’s doppelganger is Red, Gabe doppelganger is Abraham, Zora’s doppelganger is Umbrare and Jason’s doppelganger is Pluto. After the doppelganger reveal the fun and genius of Us begins. To go any further into details will ruin the film for you. One of the most impressive things of Us is director Jordan Peele’s direction of his actors. The actors who portray the Wilson family and their doppelgangers are all required to pull double duty as they represent two different versions of themselves.
Lupita Nyong’o is the standout among the family; however, the rest of the cast shines as well. Fresh off his breakthrough role in Black Panther, Winston Duke is a hoot as the patriarch of the Wilson family. Duke who plays an uncool dad with a huge heart has a natural flair for comedic timing. While first-time actors, Shahadi Wright and Evan Alex are very impressive in their debut. When portraying the doppelgangers of the family, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright, and Evan Alex all convey just the right amount of evil to up the creep factor. However, Us truly belongs to Lupita Nyong’o who delivers an Oscar-worthy performance.
Without going into spoilers, know that Nyong’o is the heart of the film. In lesser hands, the performance may not have worked but Lupita Nyong’o knocks it out of the park. Speaking of spoilers, I highly urge you to avoid any spoilers before you see Us. Part of the fun of Us is finding all of the clues that Peele leaves for the viewer to discover. On my ride home from the theater discussing the film with my wife and son, more hints made sense. I am looking forward to seeing the movie again.
While I do have high praise for Us, I must warn potential viewers that the film is not an all-out scare fest. If you are going into Us expecting a run of the mill horror flick, then prepare to be disappointed. Jordan Peele’s has a crafted a suspenseful film which requires the audience to think and have discussions well after you leave the theater.
Jordan Peele easily avoids the sophomore slump with his newest nightmare Us. Peele could have easily made a sequel to Get Out; instead, we get a film that is different in scope and some aspects better than his debut.
Final Grade: A-