A family's serenity turns to chaos when a group of doppelgängers begins to terrorize them.
Directors: Jordan Peele
Writers: Jordan Peele
Cast: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Anna Drop, Cali Sheldon, Noelle Sheldon, Madison Curry
US is about you and I, it's about the U.S and it's about all of human civilization. Although Jordan Peele's directorial debut Get Out wore its theme on its sleeve and was transparent with its story of racism in America, US wears its theme with a thin-veil, but the most obvious thematic story being told is one of the working class in American, and ultimately the world over. And yeah, it's scary.
The Wilson Family arrive at their lakeside house in Santa Cruz for Summer Holidays. Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong'o) is slightly on edge as she had a scary incident occur on the beach there at a young age; Gabe Wilson (Winston Duke) is full of energy for the holiday with his family; daughter Zora Wilson (Shahadi Wright Joseph) is not too bothered by the trip and spending most of her time looking at her phone and the youngest child, Jason Wilson (Evan Alex) is somewhat lost but seems happy for the family time. The family set up at their home before meeting up with their friends, the Tyler's at the Santa Cruz beach, much to Adelaide's dismay of attending the beach. The day-trip seems to go fine, but later that night as the family is getting ready for bed, four shadowy figures are standing hand-in-hand at the edge of their driveway. As they eventually crawl, climb and burst into the house and the terrorized Adelaide family clammer backwards into their home seeking safety they get to see their attackers faces, which match those of the Wilson families, but they look more worn, tortured and are all in matching jumpsuits.
US somewhat starts out like the 2008 film, The Strangers, which is the vibe I had previously got from trailers for the film. US isn't anything like The Strangers though and it quickly escaped any tropes of influences I thought the film was going to cling too heavily to, including the 1997 film Funny Games, which is hard to not think about as the duplicate families sit in a room together and things begin to unfold.
Jordan Peele is at his utmost Kubrickian here as he litters the film with red herrings, foreshadowing and subtle and not-so-subtle story beats that play into the themes of the film. So many in fact, that I wanted to re-watch US pretty much straight after leaving the cinema. It's absurd the number of things I was suddenly clicking on-to on the drive home, and I'm sure I've missed a lot. US is designed for multiple viewings, but it's not to say the core plot requires it.
Lupita Nyong'o is phenomenal as she dances in the role of both the Mother wanting to protect her family and the disturbing and haunting Red, her duplicate who is at all points in the film nothing short of skin-crawling creepy. The rest of the cast similarly get to perform complete opposite characters. Gabe Wilson is a wise-cracking family man but Winston Duke looks about 10ft taller and 100 pounds scarier when he is playing Abraham, the giant figure sitting across from the Wilson family.
Michael Abels who worked with Peele as the composer for Get Out returns for his best work thus far. A haunting selection of string pieces leads what is easily one of my favourite scores for the year. The remix of ‘I Got 5 On It’ by Luniz which was originally made for the film's trailer is included in the final product and it's ridiculous how well and haunting it is when all put together.
It Follows cinematographer Mike Gioulakis plays with light and shadows to produce his most menacing work since that 2014 film. Amongst all the dark and scary corners of US, Mike and Jordan Peele have also managed to shoot one of the most beautiful horror movies of recent memory with truly menacing and brutal close-ups, to the wonderful and bright Santa Cruz boardwalk and beach and all of its glory.
Jordan Peele took his bigger budget following Get Out and didn't mess around with making a safe story, instead, he aims for the sky in a very high-concept film and succeeds in most parts. There are some plot points that don't add up to me, but I honestly don't care. US is a dance, it's this beautiful performance across the screen and the main story presented to the viewer is the surface level stuff we have to look past.
US is a much more involved, scarier and conceptually intriguing film than Peele's previous work on Get Out, but with both these films now, the writer/director cements himself as one of the best horror directors currently working.
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