“Us” is about a family of four who is vacationing in Santa Cruz. Not long after reaching their destination, they are ambushed by four people who look exactly like them. As blood and scares unfold, the secrets of what is going on are unraveled as well.
It looked as though Jordon Peele has done it again with his second feature film. While I do prefer “Get Out” over “Us,” this film was very intriguing, creepy, and I was kept curious throughout.
The first thing I should talk about was the cinematography since it was the most noticeable. It was all around great. The film does a very good job of slow-panning to get a nice view of the environment the characters are in. There are many scenes where the elements within the shot were perfectly aligned. The camera would stay in a scene for a good amount of time to let the audience get absorbed on what is happening. There are certain times, particularly in the first scene with the television, where I would look around in the shot to see any hidden references. In the first scene, there were references to movies such as “C.H.U.D” and “The Goonies.”
Characters in the movie were good and the performances they gave were good as well. Lupita Nyong’O was definitely the best. Her character and the rest of the family do great as playing not only as a regular family but also as their doppelgangers. They offer a creepy yet funny portrayal as the evil counterparts. One can tell they were having a ball playing those parts.
Music in the movie was good. As one would guess, “I got 5 on it,” by Luniz was in here. There was the regular version and the haunting/orchestral version, both of which were used appropriately. There were other pieces of music utilized and they were all really good. The opening credits theme actually reminded me of the hospital scene with the dolls in the movie “Akira.” Both having eerie, child-like chants that set the mood nicely and it can send chills down the spine.
The pacing of the movie was pretty good. For the most part, there wasn’t any scene that seemed to drag or go by fast.
The humor in the movie was not as prevalent as it was from “Get Out.” It was more subtle and subdued. Though I believed it still worked nicely.
While watching the movie early on, I thought maybe the film was going to rip-off “Get Out” in terms of cinematography, music, etc. But honestly, these were more or less homages or references to “Get Out.” It didn’t appear to be a straight copy/paste. In terms of the plot/story of “Get Out,” it was self-explanatory through most of the way and one could follow it easily. With this one, it seemed as though Peele wanted to go even deeper with the themes and try to make the audience create their own interpretations of what the film was trying to say.
For my own interpretation, “Us” seemed to deal with the issues of poverty, homelessness, and people in need of assistance. As one who watched the film, there were many doppelgangers out there outside of the one family. All of them were created by the government through various cloning methods. They all have lived in tunnels underneath the United States for god knows how long. Their only source of sustenance or food were rabbits. Once the government saw no use of them, due to not perfecting the cloning process, they left the clones in the tunnels to survive on their own means. They needed support, help, and order to keep a sense of balance in the life they were leading down in the tunnels. This is so true in that there are many people in the U.S that are living in poor conditions and are in dire need of help. There was one line from the film that definitely sums up this, “We are Americans.” It shows that these clones are people too, they shouldn’t be treated any differently.
Now while the themes presented were fun to decipher on, the film itself can lead to more questions than answers, which could be a problem. Even with the long exposition scene that was spoken by Lupita’s “doppelganger,” one would still be left in the dark for what just happened or what was the purpose behind of all of this. I feel at points the film was throwing a bit too much for the message it was trying to get across and it needed to tone itself down.
The acting was good all around. But at some points, it doesn’t feel natural and it comes off as odd. Particularly for Winston Duke, which no offense to him as he was a good actor in this, but it didn’t sound right.
One big problem I have was that there seemed to be a lack of an emotional connection between the family. As with “Get Out,” one would follow the main character throughout and can actually fill in the shoes of that person. It felt relatable for most people. For this movie, there didn’t seem to be a lot of interactions with the family members. More scenes of them together before the break-in would have helped the audience actually care for what was happening to them.
The twist in the movie was fine, but I feel like one could see it if they looked hard enough. Though probably not as the mother seemed to be very caring of the doppelganger kids. It does lead to more interpretation for the son in the family. Was he the real one or the doppelganger the whole time? He was the weird one of the family, outside of the mother, and he liked to build tunnels in the sand.
Though on a personal note, the movie got a full point for me for taking place in Santa Cruz, Cali.
“Us” was a great horror film and a really good second film from Jordon Peele. I’m really curious to see what his third project will be. This was a film that one should definitely check out. It delivered great cinematography, great acting, good music, and good funny yet creepy thrills that will be entertaining for many.