Jordan Peele’s second directorial venture is an entertaining horror/thriller on the surface. However, it has a lot more to say when you look a little deeper.
The plot revolves around the Wilson family staying in Santa Cruz on holiday. Their trip takes a turn for the worse when they are confronted by a group of doppelgangers, and must fight for their survival.
With Us, Peele demonstrates his assured directing ability. Every shot and camera movement is crisp yet efficient, helped enormously by Mike Gioulakis’ cinematography. It is a very pleasing film to look at.
In terms of acting, Lupita Nyong’o delivers an excellent performance in a dual role. She manages to make Adelaide and her doppelganger Red such distinct and compelling characters. The rest of the family played by Winston Duke, Shahdidi Wright and Evan Alex are also assured.
Michael Abels delivers on a very intriguing musical score, much like he did with Get Out. He blends in the rap song ‘I Got 5 on It’ as well as a more suspenseful remixed version to great effect.
Peele’s greater ideas
Speaking of Get Out, comparisons are undoubtedly going to be made to Peele’s directorial debut. However, Us very much stands as its own entity. It can be seen as an exploration of many different ideas and themes. This includes, but is not limited to, othering, being our own worst enemy, class, society’s destruction due to worshipping false idols and duality.
It gives a lot for the viewer to think about, and was surely intended to provoke discussion for many years after its release. This is almost certainly the film’s best quality along with its writing. There are so many subtle yet sublime set ups and payoffs that are extremely satisfying. Almost every single line in the opening act sets up a narrative development later down the line.
Then again some of the writing is the film’s greatest flaw. There is a choice towards the end that works well on a thematic level, but leaves you with more questions about how the plot played out. Yet that choice is also crucial in making other areas of the narrative make sense.
Nevertheless, Peele has managed to make another intriguing horror/thriller. And with the film having so far grossed $120 million on a $20 million budget, we’ll undoubtedly be seeing more of his work in the near future.