In compelling horror-thriller Us, Jordan Peele turns his forensic eye on the ways in which humans are their own worst enemies – packing in home invasion, zombies and high concept sci-fi tropes on the way. The pace is relentless and exhilarating, but dangles the question of how to bring the mayhem to a satisfying conclusion. And in truth, Peele’s scalpel does slip slightly in the last 15 minutes; having opened a rich metaphorical vein, the film abruptly bleeds out. Threads are left hanging, and it ties up one loose end it arguably shouldn’t.
That said, it still sparkles with genius. Peele is a master of the unseen as well as wryly hilarious, wielding music like a weapon to punctuate both brutal action and deliciously observed, loaded conversations. And most of all, Us continues to polish the diamond that is Lupita Nyong’o. Playing both angsty Adelaide and doppelgänger “Red”, she commands the screen even when delivering devastating dialogue entirely with her back to the camera.
It is as she struggles with a past that has literally come back to haunt her that we realise the extent to which the film is rooted in suspended childhood. Winston Duke’s affable dad Gabe resorts to petty competition with the showy white neighbours (Elisabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker), while the actual kids, Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex), are beautifully realised with distinct roles – a relative rarity. Meanwhile the lens frequently lurks at child’s-eye level, delivering the most eerie horrors simply by once again making us afraid of the dark.
Us ultimately raises more questions than it seeks to answer, trading the watertight thesis Get Out presented for an altogether messier, more elaborate kind of statement. Demanding repeat viewing, it’s another superior showcase for Peele’s bloody dissection of humanity with razor-edged wit.
CAST: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker
DIRECTOR: Jordan Peele
WRITER: Jordan Peele
SYNOPSIS: Adelaide and Gabe Wilson take their family for a relaxing beach break with friends. But the serenity is abruptly ended when a group of malevolent strangers – who look just like the Wilsons – arrive.