8 April 2019

Us review

I don't think I'm overstating things when I say that Jordan Peele's Get Out ended up being a pretty big deal by any measure. It made just over $250 million worldwide on a budget of less than $5 million; it received the kind of critical acclaim most directors would kill for; it was nominated for four Academy Awards (including Best Picture and Best Director), winning Best Original Screenplay; and maybe most importantly, left the kind of immediate cultural impact that can't help but ensure its longevity as both a movie and an important part of pop culture. It is, in short, a great movie - which means that the only real question I had going into Peele's Us was simply this. How can it possibly live up to Get Out?

Sadly, the answer is that it doesn't, but the reason is a little more complicated than just "it's not as good". In many ways, Us is (somewhat appropriately) the mirror image of Get Out - very much still recognisable as a socially satirical horror film, but inverted in a few places to create something that feels radically different to its predecessor. The most obvious of these inversions is that Us is deliberately far less comedic than Get Out, instead focusing its energy on creating the kind of visceral, immediate scares that the more cerebral Get Out lacked - but maybe more important is the films approach to theme, swapping out the laser like precision of Get Out in favour of something less refined but significantly more complex, open ended and further reaching.

The plot itself, however, starts off fairly simple. We follow a fairly average American family of four (the Wilsons) as they holiday in Santa Cruz, which also happens to be where matriarch Adelaide suffered a traumatic experience as a child. That night, 4 mysterious figures appear at the end of the beach house's driveway, terrorising the family before revealing themselves to be terrifying doppelgangers of the Wilsons.