Hi all, and welcome back to Voyage of the Mind, Movie Madness Monday edition. Today, I’m going to discuss four things about the movie Us, Jordan Peele’s sophomore effort. This is sort of a movie review, sort of not. And it sort of contains spoilers, sort of doesn’t. Of course, you won’t get any spine-tingling horror from my writeup (we hope), so at the end of it you ought to go watch Us for yourself if you’re a horror fan.
If you’re not a horror fan… Well, still watch it if you’re intrigued. Just cover your eyes during the bloody bits.
1: Us is about us. And about the U.S. About America.
At its core, Us is a movie about privilege and how we as Americans constantly ignore the ramifications of privilege. We’re so good at pretending that the underprivileged are invisible that, every now and then when they rise up, it’s a big, bloody deal.
Worse, Us seems to imply that for the underprivileged the rise up, they need to be led by a former member of the privileged. In Us, each American is connected a doppelgänger. The doppelgängers are called, collectively, the Tethered. They are, as one critic pointed out, reminiscent of the Morlocks in H.G. Wells’s work The Time Machine. (Read that book if you haven’t. It’s good and delightfully frightful.)
The Tethered represent those classes of society most people try to forget about. I won’t spoil much more, but revisit these points of mine after you watch the movie… There’s a big plot twist at the end that I don’t want to spoil.
My last thought on the deepness of Us — is it an accident that Adelaide’s doppelgänger is named Red, or that all the Tethered wear red? (Red — Red Scare — Communism.)
2: Us beat the “sophomore slump.”
Need this be said? The so-called “sophomore slump” refers to the tendency of directors (and other artists, for that matter, like writers) to write and direct a really great first film, and follow it up with a subpar second film. News flash: Us isn’t subpar. And it was a hit at the box office, earning 255.2 million USD against a budget of 20 million USD.
If you enjoyed Get Out, you should watch Us. If you’re a horror fan, you should watch Us. Now we’re eagerly waiting for Jordan Peele’s “junior” effort.
3: Us rewrites some typical horror-movie expectations.
Sometimes, horror movies are badly acted. Or badly cast. Or badly written. But we excuse these features of modern horror because these horror films are still… horror-inducing. Or delightfully gory.
Us is none of these things. Well, it is horror-inducing and delightfully gory, but it’s none of the other things. Lupita Nyong’o, who you might know from Black Panther, turns in a wonderful performance as Adelaide/Red. And I loved the performance of Evan Alex, the young actor who plays Jason/Pluto.
Moreover, Us is a deep movie. Its message transcends genre. Sure, Peele has used horror elements, but he’s used them to critique society. They aren’t there just for kicks, giggles, or chills. From the meaning of Jeremiah 11:11, the Bible verse frequently alluded to in the film, to the repeated Michael Jackson references, Jordan Peele said — and you should probably take the director’s word on this matter — that nothing in Us is an accident.
4: Us is everything that Get Out (2017) is not.
In other words, Us is Jordan Peele’s answer to the critics of Get Out.
His first film effort, Get Out largely pleased critics — but disappointed some fans. (Not me. You can read more of my thoughts on Get Out in my review here on the blog.) Some people didn’t get its message. Others thought it inhabited a weird space between horror and comedy — which it does, but that was part of the point. At any rate, it was a genre-bending film. This caused horror fans to bemoan the lack of traditional horror aspects like tension, and comedy fans to bemoan to inclusion of traditional horror elements like gore.
Peele vowed to create a “true” horror film in his second directorial effort. And, with Us, he delivers. Get Out is not a slasher film. Us is. Get Out is more unsettling than terrifying. Us is both terrifying and unsettling. Both movies keep you on the edge of your seat, in different ways.
Watch Us now. Then come back and tell me what you thought!
Read more movie reviews on Voyage of the Mind.
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Definitely check out Laura’s review of Jordan Peele’s first film, Get Out.
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