Today: June 20, 2024

For his debut feature film Us director Jordan Peele delivered Get Out, a film that resonated with audiences and will no doubt be poured over by generations to come. So his sophomore effort was always going to be a tall order. How do you better, or even match, a film that had such an impact?

As with his previous film, Us can be viewed on a number of levels. And Peele is content for you to take what you want from it. For some it can be a straight-up horror, much more so than Get Out. On another it is a Twilight Zone – a show Peele is currently rebooting – come Black Mirror. And even deeper than that is another analogy of modern American society and Peele’s commentary on it.

The Wilson family are off on their summer vacation to Santa Cruz. As a child mother Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) had a traumatic experience on said beach and it’s not long before she is feeling the echoes of post traumatic stress. At first husband Gabe (Winston Duke) believes it’s all in her head, until a family of doppelgangers appears on their doorstep and tries to kill them all.

Peele is clearly a smart and accomplished filmmaker. On the surface Us is deeply disturbing, Peele utilising classic horror tropes to bring the film to unnerving life. The way in which the ‘Tethered’ (the name given to the doppelgangers in the film) move is creepy as hell, all judery, like animals primed to pounce. Where Us differs from Get Out is its definite reduction in dark comedy. Almost every line in Get Out feels loaded to impact on a deeper more satirical level. Only Gabe here has one-liners so for the most part Us aims to thrill and scare rather than layer too much on the social commentary side of things.

That being said there is clearly a Charlie Brooker style modern life under the microscope going on. It’s less obvious here than in Get Out and perhaps intentionally ambiguous but Americans turning on each other and inflicting untold violence on themselves seems to be a clear message. Whatever your reading of the film it’s one that, by the end, will have you sparking endless conversations and probably feeling a strong urge to re-watch to see those little details Peele weaves in to delicately guide the way to the ending.

A modern take on Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, Us gets under you skin, in your head and sends shivers down your spine. Good horrors scare, great horrors force you to think. And Us will have your mind in knots. 

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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