Run Time: 1 hr 56 min
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%/69%
Us, written and directed by Jordan Peele, is a horror, suspense/thriller that begs us to answer the question, “what would happen if I came face to face with the evil version of myself?”. Us stars Luptia Nyong’o (Adelaide/Red), Winston Duke (Gabe/Abraham), Shahadi Wright Joseph (Zora/Umbrae), and Evan Alex (Jason/Pluto) as a family on their yearly summer vacation at their beach home in Santa Cruz, California. Everything seems to be going as planned until the Wilsons get a visit from some uninvited guests; themselves. Jordan Peele is diving headfirst into the world of horror but we have to ask ourselves, is this a refreshing new take that the horror genre needs or is Jordan Peele way over his head? The following is a SPOILER FILLED REVIEW so if you have not seen this movie READ THIS REVIEW AT YOUR OWN RISK!!!!
Jordan Peele has yet again given us a creative, unique take on the horror genre. Us is more than just your traditional horror film but it also gives us a little taste of some sci-fi elements. I say literally every day that my life would be so much easier if I just had a clone. And while the idea of having another me around to do the work I don’t want to do sounds amazing, Peele made me rethink that wish by presenting the idea of your clone being a homicidal, mute tired of living their life in your shadow. Yes, the evil Wilson dopplegangers are the result of a failed government experiment that tested the idea of cloning. The clones were created as a way for the government to be able to control the population but the experiment failed. This concept is the type of creativity that Hollywood needs because I am so over the remakes/reboots that we are being force-fed year after year.
Another thing about this movie that I enjoyed was Lupita Nyong’o’s performance. Lupita acted her ass off in this movie! The character of Red was one of the creepiest characters I have seen on screen in a very long time. The tone of voice, slurred speech, stiff movement, and vacant look of the eyes all added to the eeriness of this character. While there are some questionable character choices by Adelaide (i.e going into the woods alone to check on the status of a murderous clone), once the twist at the end of the movie is revealed, many of these choices make more sense. I genuinely do not think I will be able to look at Lupita the same and if she is not nominated for an Oscar for this role, I will be convinced that the horror genre will never be respected by the Academy.
Winston Duke’s performance was also extremely enjoyable to me. This is where many will disagree with me but it was refreshing to see a realistic portrayal of what could happen if a family is under attack by some damn-near superhuman psychos. Everyone that I have seen review this film has complained about how weak his character was BUT let me give my opinion on this. If a man is naturally a gentle giant, was raised to act rationally not violently, and is clearly not about “that life”; why in the world would anyone expect him to turn into this tough Macho Man all of a sudden?! We know in a threatening situation people will either show fight or flight and clearly Gabe could not leave his family but he just was not a fighter. Yes, Peele could have written him as a bad ass but if his clone was supposed to be the “elevated” version of him, then his clone would have been the damn incredible hulk or super timid which would not have made sense. Gabe did what he could and damnit he cracked me up!
The biggest mistake I made when going to this film was in my determination to find all the hidden messages and metaphors that I just knew Jordan Peele had throughout the film. In doing this, I took myself out of the moment and did not allow myself to enjoy this movie as much as I could have. I personally do not think this movie is this deep allegory for the current climate of the nation. I do, however, think that is a fun horror, suspense with some cool hidden messages that add depth to the overall film. Here are some of the things I caught in the film.
- The color red in simple terms symbolizes passion, anger, rage, and courage but if we look at the biblical context (which is suitable for this film) the color represents the healing power of God. Red’s overall plan is to cleanse the United States (US) of those who do not appreciate the light and for the tethered ones to inherit the land. Red is a god-like figure for the tethered.
- Abraham is known in the bible for following God’s command without question because he is promised that his “seed” will inherit the earth. Abraham obeys Red’s command to harm Gabe even though there is a slight moment of hesitation, he does as he is told.
- Umbrae, while not a biblical reference, means literally shadow or darkness. This name is a direct reference to the environment that the tethered are born in and have to remain in until death.
- In mythology Pluto is the god of the underworld/hades/hell which is a place no one ever wants to go and is consumed by fire. In the film Pluto is obsessed with fire to the point that he kills himself by walking into an inferno.
We also see rabbits throughout the film and it is revealed that these rabbits are the only source of food for the tethered in the underground. Rabbits are known to reproduce often so it makes sense that these animals would be chosen to feed millions in secret. Rabbits also represent rebirth and resurrection (which is why the Easter bunny is a thing), and their presence in the film symbolizes the tethered planning to go to the surface and be “reborn” in the light.
We see Jeremiah 11:11 referenced early on in the film and this is biggest clue about what is to come for the Wilson family. Jeremiah 11:11 reads as follows
- “11 Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them.”
Right from the beginning we are warned that damn near everyone will die and there will be no help for them. Although the Wilson family survives in the end, we see that the tethered are carrying out their plan across the country and I find it hard to believe that this family will make it without being murdered by the tethered. Or Adelaide could decide to turn on her family and rejoin the tethered as their new leader……
Us was the most anticipated movie of the year for me and I was not disappointed. It was terrifying, gave me comedy, a chilling “what if” concept, and I loved it! There are some plot holes here and there which makes it not necessarily a flawless victory for me but this Sista Gurl highly suggests you check it out. Do not go into this film looking for hidden social or political messages because that’ll take you out of the experience. Go into it anticipating a well done horror flick with some subtle sci-fi influences here and there.