Saturday, March 23, 2019

Movie Review: Us

After the success of his first film, Get Out in 2017, the big question everyone had about Jordan Peele was a simple one: What's next?
Yes, he was going to be doing a revival of The Twilight Zone but what about a feature film?
The answer came to us Christmas Day with the trailer for his new film, simply titled Us.

Modern horror movies don't do shit for me. I was in the theater for It in the summer of 2017 and the whole time I saw there with my chin resting in my palm with a presumably bored look upon my face as I could see the jump-scares and any attempt at horror coming a mile away.

Are you scared yet? I ask because I can't tell if that's the intent.

But with Us I had my chin on my palm but found quickly that my palm was covering my mouth as well, almost like a defense mechanism. Us, at times, left me feeling terrified simply due to it's simplistic nature despite the bizarre premise. The bizarre is that these strangers are doppelgangers of our protagonists but the simplistic is in the fact that they just want to kill them. No explanation, no bargaining, they just want to kill you.

Peele does a good job of setting a scene up and even got my heart going during a scene where the youngest child, Jason, is briefly missing. A big problem in a lot of horror movies is that the people we're supposed to care about are assholes.

But why are we supposed to care about assholes? If they remind you of someone you hate from your own real life, you won't care if they get killed in the movie. But in Us, we like the Wilson family, we care about them. We don't want anything bad to happen to them.
And when it does happen, you find yourself taking quick sharp breaths and waiting for the right moment to exhale.
scary movie GIF by Us
I will admit that some of the tension was briefly sucked out of the theater due to some douchebag who thought he was on Mystery Science Theater 3000 and had to do a running commentary but after the fifth riff someone told him to shut up.

I think what made Us, an effective movie is how little is given away in the trailers itself. There's so much more they could have shown but since restraint was shown, we're given a lot more opportunities to be surprised and that certainly happened.GIF by Us

Peele's direction in this film is solid, there's a lot of close up shots that help us connect to the fear and anguish of the Wilson family but it also gives you an idea of those who wish to do them harm, as the Tethered do.
The performances are all really good but by far the best is Lupita Nyong'o as Adelaide Wilson & Red, the leader of the Tethered. It wouldn't shock me in the least if her name is among those nominated for Best Actress next year at the Oscars.

However one person who I think won't be getting an Oscar nomination is Peele himself. I think that the film starts to slow down in the third act and for a while it feels almost like he wasn't sure how to end this and while I enjoyed the twist, I still felt a bit let down when it was over.

But does this mean I didn't like the movie? No, I rather enjoyed it but I think perhaps I was expecting to enjoy it a bit more.
Regardless, the final product is a well done effort in terror and showing that Jordan Peele, a man who was previously best known for comedy on Mad TV and Key & Peele can provide genuine fright as well as genuine laughs.

Rating: 3.5/5

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