Director Jordan Peele follows his 2017 runway success “Get Out” with a horror thriller “Us”. The movie “Us” stars Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke as Adelaide and Gabriel “Gabe” Wilson. Adelaide is always on her toes while Gabe is a happy-go-lucky guy. They have two children. Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) a teenager who without stay in the company of her phone. And Jason (Evan Alex) who has two almost permanent fixtures – a mask and a lighter. For some reason, Jason can’t get the lighter to work.
The Wilson’s go on vacation to Santa Cruz and Gabe has planned a fun holiday. They’ll spend some time at the beach with their friends Josh and Kitty (Elisabeth Moss) Tyler. The Tylers are well-to-do. They have a boat and a back-up generator. So Gabe buys a boat to impress them. But Adelaide is uneasy because of her traumatic encounter at the beach as a child.
Back in 1986, Adelaide had visited the same beach with her parents. Whilst her mother went to the ladies room her dad got carried away in a game. And little Adelaide (Madison Curry) wandered off to a funhouse – which invites its guests to find themselves. Adelaide tells Gabe that she met her double in the house. But he shrugs it off. He says it was a house full mirrors so Adelaide was just confused. He convinces her that they would be alright. Indeed they were. Adelaide’s worst fears did not manifest. However, the Wilson’s had something else come. That night, they received a surprise visit from their doubles – doppelgänger.
Peele uses metaphors to tell a story about “Us” confronting our inner demons. He references Jeremiah 11: 11 which states;
‘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.’
And at 11:11 pm when Red – Adelaide’s double, and her family show-up. She orders them to each take-on their doubles. Abraham takes on Gabe, Umbrae – Zora and Pluto – Jason whilst she chats to Adelaiade.
In a really hoarse voice Red makes a speech which is the bedrock of the movie “Us.” When Adelaide asks what they want she replies, ‘We are Americans.’ And goes further to narrate her sufferings in comparison to the life of comfort which Adelaide has lived. The doppelgängers – also known as the Tethered – are monsters created by the American system. They represent America’s underprivileged who now want revenge. “Us” is set in the United States of America but it is an all-too-familiar story which is equally relevant to Africa. Some day, the destitute in our society just might fight back.
The attack on the Wilson’s would seem isolated until they seek refuge at the Tylers, only to discover that they’d been attacked by their doubles too. In some way, Peele’s horror film turns out to be apocalyptic too. But why the Wilson’s survive is a mystery. Apart from the bravery displayed by Adelaide and Zora in particular, their survival perhaps suggests that the Wilson’s are less evil than other victims. As the Wilsons escape the Tethered join hands to form an endless chain across the US. It’s ironic because the Wilsons head for Mexico. And something about the chain formed by the Tethered brings Donald Trump’s wall to mind.
The two movies now under Peele’s belt prove that he is one to watch. And certainly, with remarkable acting, cinematography, soundtrack and sound effects, “Us” is an all-in-one creepy, entertaining and mind boggling movie. Duke is as funny as your remember him in “Black Panther.”As always Nyong’o gives a strong performance. She is frightened yet desperate to survive. The reason is even clearer at the end of the movie. The up-and-coming Joseph is equally impressive but Alex’s performance is lacklustre, and Adelaide’s hairdo is too obviously done to cause jitters.
Undoubtedly, Peele’s movie is in a league of its own but to describe it as extraordinary would be pandering to popular opinion. Because like several movies of this genre, there were a couple of scenes in which Adelaide willing walked into danger in ways that just wouldn’t happen in reality. For a family desperately seeking an escape, it just didn’t make sense that Adelaide didn’t turn the car around after reaching a dead end.
All in all, the movie “Us” is not for everyone. But the unanswered questions and mystery surrounding this movie are what make this movie. More so, there is an interesting plot twist in the final act. And Nyong’o caps it with one look at Jason and a smile that leaves you even more bewildered.
Directed by: Jordan Peele
Cast includes: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Madison Curry, Ashley McKoy, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex, Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker
Image: Chicago Tribune