Worth The Watch: “Us”


By Julia Matuszek, Video Editor

Us is director Jordan Peele‘s sophomore horror/thriller/social commentary film, following his box-office and critical success Get Out, which got him an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Prior to his horror films, Peele was known for his comedy sketch television series Key and Peele he did with fellow actor Keegan-Michael Key.  Although the switch may seem odd, Peele doesn’t stray from his comedy background. In both of his films, he uses comedy throughout not only as a break from the horror but as a way of social commentary as well.

In Us Peele tells the story of Adelaide, played brilliantly by Lupita Nyong’o, who as a little girl, walked into a mirror maze on the beach and saw her reflection. Except this reflection wasn’t a normal reflection, it didn’t copy exactly what Adelaide did. It was just someone who looked exactly like her. After the incident, she is never the same, she is diagnosed with PTSD and doesn’t talk for a while, it’s almost as if she’s a completely different person. Time passes, and we see Adelaide now as a mom of two and a wife to Gabe, played by Winston Duke.

One summer, the Wilsons go to their beach home, Winston convinces the whole family to go out and have a beach day. Adelaide is hesitant as that exact beach is the scene of the mirror house scenario. Adelaide becomes paranoid and on edge, but Gabe dismisses her until they see a family in their driveway that looks exactly like them. They learn that the family calls themselves the “tethered” and are their underground counterparts that exist due to a now abandoned government experiment. The tethered want to claim their spot above ground now, and a battle breaks out between the two families- as well as every other family around the country- about who is rightfully supposed to be above ground and who should be underground.

The film has the perfect blend of horror, mystery, drama, and comedy. The humor is genuinely funny and original, causing loud laughter from all over the theater. Although the drama is there and often times works perfectly, there are scenes that I think were completely unnecessary to the plot and just unnecessarily lengthened the film. In my opinion, the saving grace for the film is Nyong’o, who completely transforms not just her appearance but her voice and dialect for the two vastly different characters she portrays, one being Adelaide and one being Red, her tethered counterpart. I am betting now that she will at least be nominated for Best Actress at the Academy Awards, if not win.

When Us is compared to Get Out, it seems as if it is a film that can not stand on its own. Although both films have many secret clues within the film that foreshadow the ending, in Get Out those clues all come together perfectly and make sense, with Us there are many clues that feel unfinished and/or unnecessary. I walked out of the theater confused and had to watch about three different Youtube videos to explain the clues, and all three videos had different interpretations which made me even more confused. Although I could piece together the general meaning of the film, I think a movie should be able to stand on its own without needed research by the audience.

I wasn’t the only one, many of my friends had watched the same videos I had. As we debated about what each clue meant, I realized that maybe that was Peele’s goal. To create a film that felt a little unfinished, a little ragged, as to create debate and conversation. In a way, it makes perfect sense. In life, after a problem, there is never a happily ever after as many wish there were. Maybe that’s too deep, and maybe he is just a genius marketer creating buzz and conversation in order to be able to make another film.

Although I prefered Get Out, I still recommend seeing Us for three reasons. One, the film is a social phenomenon. Everyone is discussing it and debating about it and everybody knows what it is. It’s one of those movies that everybody will have seen and discussed, such as The Black Panther or Avatar. Second, the movie is bound to be nominated for awards. Especially, Nyong’o and her jaw-dropping, prize-winning portrayal of both Adelaide and Red. If you want to fit in during awards season, and know at least a couple of the nominated films, this is a safe bet. Third, it’s a captivating movie. Although out of Peele’s work it isn’t my first choice, it is in my top ten horror films of this generation, a difficult feat. The movie is definitely worth the ticket price, with me rating it a solid 7/10.