Us (2019) Movie Review
Do people of other races/colors/creeds/Creed IIs, scare you because they’re going to take your jobs/Rape your kids/shoot up a school? Not to worry, Get Out writer/director Jordan Peele not-so-overtly states in his new horror/thriller Us, that we don’t need to be afraid of those rapey brown people or those rapey black people, as the only people we really need to worry about is…us.
Sobering. If you leave now maybe you can just watch Keanu again.
In 2017, Get Out caught us by surprise. Us catches us by the throat. You can look at all the deeper meanings, allusions to slavery, The Shining references, a throwaway Lost Boys shoutout, race relations and economic inequality but first and foremost Us is a great horror movie and one of the best movies of 2019.
Us, like almost every piece of pop culture in the last three years, starts off in the 80s. 1986 to be exact. Hands across America is a thing and we are still not aware Michael Jackson really likes children in that way. We meet little Adelaide (Madison Curry) on her birthday at Santa Cruz Beach and Boardwalk. Her mother is barely there and her father is an alcoholic. But at least drunk dad won her a Thriller shirt.
While dad is supposed to be watching her, Adelaide wanders off into the bowels of Santa Cruz, goes into a hall of mirrors where she meets someone that looks like her. Trauma abounds.
After a while, Adelaide it back. But she’s different, off somehow. She’s diagnosed with having some kind of prepubescent PTSD, and now would be an appropriate time to flash-forward to the present.
It’s 2019 and the Wilson family are going to their annual vacation to Santa Cruz. Even though Santa Cruz roads are sidewindy, we need a nice straight road to get a Kubrick-esque opening shot. Let’s meet the Wilsons, though we’ve already met one of them.
- Gabe (Winston Duke): He’s goofy, wears glasses and provides much of the comic relief like Lil Rel Howery did in Get Out.
- Jason (Evan Alex): He’s the youngest Wilson boy and usually has a mask on his head. This is in no way important to the rest of the film
- Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph): She’s the oldest Wilson girl and runs track and field. This is in no way important to the rest of the film
- Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o): We met her earlier and now she’s all grown up and will no way be affected by what went down in ‘86 even though we all know she’s 33 Years A Slave to that incident.
The Wilsons are excited to be on vacation. Adelaide feels a less enthusiastic because certain images and sounds are making her feel off-kilter. She’s fine to stay at the house, but she really doesn’t want to go to the beach.
Adelaide and her family are now at the beach hooking up with their douchey white friends The Tylers (Elizabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker). The Tylers also have creepy tween twin girls that want to play with Zora forever…and ever…and ever…
Young Jason gets drawn to the same area where his mother did years ago.
Adelaide gets freaked out, thinking Jason has gone missing, you know, just like she did. She finds him, scolds him, and the Wilsons leave the beach to enjoy the rest of their vacation in their home where nothing else freaky will happen.
Something else freaky happens later that night, just like you saw in the trailer.
While the Wilsons are decompressing from the beach incident and preparing for bed, Jason notices a family in red jumpsuits at the top of their driveway. They’re conspicuous like The Strangers, but a lot more, um, nimble.
Also, they look exactly like the Wilsons. But you already knew that.
But what do they want? You probably don’t know that unless you see the movie.
What Works With Us
- Scary Adelaide is very scary- Adelaide’s doppelganger Red is the scariest character of 2019 so far. With a smoker’s rasp (though it’s decidedly not from smoking) and a ramrod straight posture, Red is not someone you’d want to run into in a deserted funhouse.
- Scary Elizabeth Moss is very scary- Offred has nothing on her.
- The confrontation at the driveway (only hinted at during the trailer) contains some of the best sustained terror of the decade. I don’t remember how long the sequence is, but Jordan Peele keeps the audience invested while not wearing us out with Peter Jackson battle fatigue. Even the moments of rest are fraught with tension as you can never be sure if something going to jump into frame. No, these aren’t cheap Blumhouse Jump Scares but almost flawlessly executed setup and payoff.
- I didn’t see that twist coming and neither did you. And if you expected Get Out 2…get out.
What Doesn't Work With Us
- Peele’s only noticeable misstep is a 3rd act information dump that stops the climax in its tracks. At the moment when you should be the most invested is not the time to feel like you’ve signed up for a TED talk.
How many times can you see Captain Marvel before you want something different? Once. Because it’s Marvel. So put 5 on it and then add another 10 because that’s the price of a ticket now and see Us.
Don’t just take it from me, take it from…us.