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With ‘Us,’ Jordan Peele delivers scares and disappointments

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I’m happy when filmmakers step out their comfort zones and become more ambitious with their craft. But sometimes, it gets to a point where the audience isn’t in on it and plot holes seep through.

Directed by Jordan Peele (Get Out), Us stars Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex.

On a West Coast beach vacation, the Wilson family gets the encounter of their nightmares when another family of doppelgängers threaten their lives. The Wilson family must survive any way possible while, at the same time, figure out what the hell is going on.

Just two years after creating modern classic Get Out, director and screenwriter Jordan Peele moves on to his sophomore film with Us.

Peele may not have ended up in a sophomore slump, but he sure didn’t create a film for the ages like Get Out.

Only a handful of directors come to mind when it comes to a home run on the first go, that includes Quentin Tarantino with Reservoir Dogs, Orson Welles with Citizen Kane and George A. Romero with Night of the Living Dead.

Jordan Peele most certainly lands on that list.

It’s difficult to ride that momentum forever. There are ups and downs in a filmmaker’s filmography; it makes sense to do more and be better than your first.

Peele adds more scares, but also more confusion, in Us.

Nyong’o grounds the movie with a fantastic performance. She, ultimately, has the challenge of playing the physical hero and the villain, both with terrifying flare and style.

She, along with the rest of the cast, all have their shining moments. It’s an amazing use for a talented ensemble.

However, not even a clever twist ending or the performances could keep my mind off plot holes that stared me in the face. Directors choose to sometimes leave certain details out to generate a personal attachment with the audience. Some hidden meanings or themes might mean something different to the person sitting next to you.

Without putting words in his mouth, it seems Peele wants to point out the world issues that we turn our heads to. Us brings attention to ourselves as a society, using horror to its advantage. It’s an important topic to discuss.

Peele brings a similar theme from Get Out and transfers it over to Us, except there are far more questions than answers I have after seeing Us.

One of my favorite films is Cloverfield; a notorious that begs the question, ‘What the hell just happened?’

There are more questions than answers in the New York-based monster movie, and I had fun diving into the rabbit hole to find answers online.

Us leads us to tunnel our way to answer those questions in our minds, but if you don’t understand it, you’re going to have to scour the internet for answers. It feels like it wants to be high-brow horror, but it instead gets lost trying to connect to the audience.

It’s almost as if Peele says, ‘If you don’t get it, too bad.’

Don’t get me wrong, there is talent on and off the screen. Peele is pointing out our flaws as humans and the cast creates a creepy atmosphere that gave me genuine chills.

The symbolism on top of these positives gets overwhelming, though. Parallelism is a major function of the story and the characters’ archs. Two sets of 11 pop up throughout the movie. They’re nice Easter eggs Peele has hidden throughout the movie. I found myself more focused on where the next buried treasure was on the screen than the movie itself.

After watching Us, it’s clear that Peele is a fan of metaphors and social commentary. Hell, even Get Out, which I enjoyed a whole lot, runs on these themes. But Us does not convey the same excitement that Peele’s debut had.

Us

6.9

Hits
  • Lupita Nyong'o and cast performances
  • Genuine scares and creepiness
  • Brings up discussion about important social issues
Misses
  • Plot holes
  • Confusing storyline
  • Too many Easter eggs cause distraction

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