US, the latest nightmare-inducing film from Academy Award winner Jordan Peele, once again takes a stab at social issues through the lens of horror, this time with a more surreal execution. The film stars Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave, Black Panther), Winston Duke (Black Panther), Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale), Tim Heidecker (Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!), Yahya Abdul- Mateen II (Aquaman), Anna Diop (Titans), Evan Alex (Showtime’s Kidding), Shahadi Wright Joseph (2019’s The Lion King), Madison Curry, Cali Sheldon (Friends), and Noelle Sheldon (Friends).
Haunted by an unexplainable and unresolved trauma from her past and compounded by a string of eerie coincidences, Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) feels her paranoia elevate to high-alert as she grows increasingly certain that something bad is going to befall her family. After spending a tense beach day with her friends, the Tylers (Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, Cali Sheldon, Noelle Sheldon), Adelaide and her family return to their vacation home to discover the silhouettes of four figures standing in their driveway. The family must do whatever they can to fight against a terrifying and uncanny opponent: doppelgängers of themselves.
To say that US was an experience would be an understatement. I wasn’t sure if, or how, Jordan Peele would be able to top the success of his 2017 social horror film, Get Out, but god damn, he did it. US is a total mind-fuck, a roller-coaster ride filled with terror and surreal imagery that is made to both entertain and get us to think about how society displays itself. Having just watched the film not even 24 hours earlier, I’m still reeling from all the symbolism as well as putting together the pieces of everything that unfolded. This is a film that you’ll want to watch multiple times so as to fully understand the implications and impactfulness of the movie.
I’m going to be honest, I still can’t wrap my head around the immense talent that Jordan Peele possesses. With a comedy background, I don’t think many expected him to jump head first into horror to become one of the most prominent voices within the genre. At a minimum, what US shows viewers is that Jordan Peele is not a one trick pony and that Get Out was not a fluke. In his sophomore film, Peele has crafted a story that once revealed makes you question everything you have just watched leading up to it. As the viewer, we get to peel back each layer, slowly working our way to the root where the real horror awaits. It’s hard writing a review for a film such as US as I don’t want to give anything away, but believe me when I say this is one of the most original and unique horror films you’ll see all year.
As much as I loved the cast, and believe me, they each play incredibly important roles, I need to give a shout out to the real MVP, Lupita Nyong’o. Having already been familiar with her acting after seeing 12 Years a Slave, I was once again blown away as she takes on a dual performance in US. She’s an incredibly accomplished actress, as shown in previous films, but Peele truly gives her the platform to really shine and she does so brightly. Just as Toni Collette blew audiences away with her performance in Hereditary, and was then snubbed for an Oscar nomination, Lupita gives a raw, disturbing, and powerful performance as Adelaide Wilson, a performance in which she should rightfully be nominated for. On the other end of the spectrum is Black Panther’s Winston Duke who plays Adelaide’s husband Gabe and is our main source of comedic relief. There were moments when I found myself grateful for his one-liners as they truly helped in breaking up the heavy tension that I was feeling. Furthermore, Tim Heidecker and Elisabeth Moss were absolutely fantastic in their respective roles, my only issue being that I wished they had more screen time. I would be remiss if I didn’t bring up both Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex’s performances as Zora and Jason Wilson. The emotional range that they both had mixed with terror and innocence was astounding, especially since they also played two roles.
What I loved so much about this film is that, for me, the terror began early on. I knew from the get-go that something wasn’t right, that something was feeling very off, which only heightened my paranoia (and ultimately validating it). There is a lot of humor in the film which might seem off-putting at first, but once the shit starts truly hitting the fan, the comedy aspect begins to die down. The true terror resides within us, when we look in the mirror and see ourselves for who we are, the decisions we make, and the way we portray ourselves. When the doppelgängers reveal themselves to the Wilson family, there is horror and fear in their eyes, especially when these doubles, otherwise known as The Tethered, begin to explain how they came to be. The duality between the family and The Tethered is one that is both beautiful and horrifying and one of the strongest aspects of the film.
There is so much more that I want to discuss, as well as dissect, with this film, but until then, I urge you all to see this movie when it is released. With incredible performances, moments of horror and bloodshed, and copious amounts of symbolism, you’ll find yourself wracking your brain for the meaning behind it all in the days that follow. Because there are some surprises that aren’t shown in the trailers, I can’t help but beg that if any of you see the film, do not spoil it for anyone else. With all that said, I’ll never look at beaches, rabbits, or scissors the same again. US is rated R and will be released nationwide on Friday, March 22.
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