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Jordan Peele's 'Us' proves he's a master of the horror genre

Rating: 8/10

Overview: Everything is going great for Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o) and her family. Her and her husband don’t have to work, the kids don’t have school and the sun is shining beautifully. Things take a quick turn when they settle into their summer beach home for vacation. A family looking strikingly similar to the Wilson’s shows up unexpectedly in their driveway with wicked intentions. Adelaide must now find out why they are here and even more importantly how to keep her family safe.

Us is rated R for violence/terror and language.

What Worked: Peele’s sophomore effort does an amazing job of building on your typical horror motifs. Mimicking them, letting them brood and then eventually allowing it to go in a different direction. Peele’s directing eye is something to be admired. It may be too soon to call him the Hitchcock of our generation, but the talent that he possesses is obvious. He is a master of utilizing actor’s performances, objects and imagery to really create an amazingly executed movie. Peele knows how to tease an audience when necessary while still building up tension like an air filled balloon ready to burst. When it finally bursts – that’s when the fun begins. What we are left with is an early M. Night Shyamalan version of The Purge. Us is pretty violent and has a much larger universe than depicted by the trailer. The acting in Us is very solid and sets a high bar for the genre. Nyong’o does an amazing job in dual roles as a loving mother and also as a demented doppelgänger. Her husband Gabe (Winston Duke) does a solid job and provides some of the movie’s better comedic moments. Their children Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex) were phenomenal also. In their feature film debut Peele couldn’t have chosen better youngsters who are also tasked with the difficult “dual role” performance. Get Out composer Michael Abels returns for this movie and his style is showcased from the opening scene. Heavy drums, brooding strings and tribal chants all add to the uneasiness of Peele’s Us just like it’s predecessor. The movie also has a great soundtrack featuring many popular songs spanning different decades. All of these components come together to create the overall dark and unsettling tone of the movie. Peele takes his time stringing the audience along like puppets in Us. It is a very slow build but when it finally gets going it doesn’t slow down.

What Didn’t Work: Is it possible to be “too big of a fan” of horror flicks? If so, I think that me and Peele fall into the same category. As a writer and director, it is obvious that he is well versed in his horror history and it is at full display in his work. It is because of this that leads to my major complaint in Us. I was able to predict the movie’s “twist” ending halfway through the film. While I do believe that most viewers will be blindsided and shocked when it transpires, big fans of the horror genre will see it coming. Viewers must also put some notions on reality aside for Us. The movie is VERY out there, because of this some may find it too hard to follow or comprehend. Definitely go into the movie with an open mind.

Overall: Jordan Peele follows up the highly touted Get Out with another horror movie sure to garner award nominations at the end of the year. Us is sure to produce heated debate concerning the different hidden messages within the story and its plot twists. Personally, I did find the ending to be somewhat predictable to the genre. However, Us sports amazing cinematography, acting, music and atmosphere. In a time when the quality of horror films seems to be dropping at a dramatic rate, it’s refreshing to have Jordan Peele creating quality work. You can tell he’s a huge fan of the horror genre and fully understands what makes it tick. Although It falls a little bit short of Get Out in the plot department, Us is a great horror movie that will get better with multiple viewings.  

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