‘Us’ Movie Soars: 3 Reasons to See Jordan Peele’s New Horror
Us is Jordan Peele’s second foray into the horror genre since his critically acclaimed movie Get Out, and it does not disappoint. Starring Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, and Elizabeth Moss, the film follows Adelaide Wilson, and her family, as they return to the beachfront home where Adelaide grew up.
Adelaide – convinced that something terrible is going to happen as a result of an eerie and traumatic childhood experience at the beach – can’t seem to settle into the vacation mindset.
Adelaide’s fears become reality when four masked strangers descend upon their home. The twist: the four attackers are mirror images of Adelaide’s family. One for the daughter. One for the son. One who resembles the father. And of course, one who mirrors Adelaide herself.
The film, just like Get Out, disowns horror movie cliches and, instead, asks viewers to confront their own psychological tendencies and societal outlook. The film is not merely a horror; it is an allegory centered on the concept of “other,” or “us” vs “them.”
Before getting into this film’s three major triumphs, keep in mind that this post will attempt to be “spoiler-free,” as the goal is to convince those who have not seen the film to get on over to the theatre. However, for the sake of argumentation, thematic spoilers and/or minor revelations may slip through the cracks.
1 Horror is not the foundation; it is the means of execution.
Like any quality horror film, of which there are so few these days, Jordan Peele’s Us does not rely on horror tactics for success. If it did, the film would not be so critically praised, as the scrutinizing, and seemingly “faceless,” voices behind Rotten Tomatoes would never adulate a Freddy vs. Jason-esque escapade.
In Us, horror is just the means of execution. It is the vehicle Jordan Peele uses to get his message across. By choosing the horror genre, the nature of the doppelgangers – their underlying purpose – is augmented; they become the “other” to be feared. They are villainous. They are dangerous. However, it is not Peele who casts them aside as “the bad guys,” a viewer’s natural tendency takes care of this: A natural tendency to assume other is “bad,” which is the very thing Peele is asking society to reflect on. And, thus, the allegory at large.
*MINOR PLOT SPOILER AHEAD*:
In the movie, Adelaide’s doppelganger explains that living as Adelaide’s alternate self in the world down under left her with no agency. She was destined to live as her shadow, “tethered” to Adelaide’s existence as a mere reflection.
The “other” Adelaide is also a human, with feelings of her own, and pent up anger from a life unfulfilled. Her circumstances – out of her control and drastically subpar to virtually any human existence – have placed her where she is today. Is Jordan Peele asking us to reflect on what it means to be part of the privileged? Most definitely, and in the most horrifying way possible.
2 Lupita Nyong’o kills it!
Lupita Nyong’o, playing both Adelaide and the “other” Adelaide,” delivers a performance worth seeing on the silver screen. From the protective mother who refuses to see her children hurt to the condemned “other” looking to claim an existence for herself, Lupita Nyong’o perfectly shifts between the two identities.
In Us,Nyong’o is a joy to watch. Her characters are heartfelt, horrifying, harrowed, and captivating. While the surrounding cast members also deliver stellar performances, it is Nyong’o who grabs your attention and never lets it go.
3 ‘Us’ returns dignity to horror and may become the second film in the genre to ever win the Oscar for Best Picture
As mentioned earlier, Us marks Jordan Peele’s second horror movie triumph since Get
Currently boasting a 95% according to critics on Rotten Tomatoes, Us is a horror movie that transcends its genre and is thus deserving of Oscar recognition (as was Get Out). Except, this time, Peele may just take the award home. To this day, 1992’s Silence of the Lambs is the only horror movie to ever win the honor.
Jordan Peele’s previous success and critical acclaim in this arena may just be enough to bring dignity back to the horror genre, and an award along with it.