Peele Beats The Sophomore Slump: ‘Us’ Movie Review

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Peele Beats The Sophomore Slump: ‘Us’ Movie Review

Jack Corcoran, Staff

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Following up 2017’s surprise hit Get Out, writer/director Jordan Peele again wrote and directed Us, which came out on March 22. In Us, Peele finally figures out the dreaded sophomore slump that has afflicted filmmakers for so long.

Us follows the Wilson family, with mom Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o), dad Gabe (Winston Duke), and children Jason (Evan Alex) and Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph), taking a trip to their vacation home in Santa Cruz, California. However, once night falls, a family of four show up in their driveway. As the family forces their way in, they realize that they don’t only know where they stash their hide-a-key rock, but they look exactly like them.

To start, everything about the performances is amazing. Each actor in the movie is tasked with playing their doppelganger. Nyong’o pushed herself into Best Actress consideration at the Oscars with her performances of both Red and Adelaide, going so far as to create her own distinct voice for the former character. Among the other performances, Elizabeth Moss deserves credit for her performance as one of the Wilson’s family friends, Kitty Tyler, as well as her own doppelganger. Albeit brief, her performance is the one that is best able to convey the tortured souls of the Tethered, especially in one creepy scene in which she contorts her face from a voiceless sob into hysterical laughter.

Surprisingly, even while labelled a horror film, the movie is hilarious. While movies like this run into a problem where the comedy seems forced, all the jokes that the Wilsons make, particularly Gabe, seems natural. It genuinely feels like a family is trying to make the most of a horrifying situation.

Lastly, the movie is chock full of symbolism. Everything in the film has a purpose, from what the Tethered wear to the blood splatter on Adelaide’s clothes. It is filled with pop culture references from Michael Jackson’s Thriller to 1986’s “Hands Across America,” Peele has made sure that Us is worth multiple viewings for viewers to catch all the little Easter eggs within the movie.

One of the negatives is that Red’s primary function, at least in the beginning, seems to be exposition. There’s a good two-minute scene within the movie where Red tells the background information of the Tethered and where they live. This could have been done far more effectively had it been via a flashback which is utilized to perfection at the end of the movie. Also, the ending was a little bit too cut-and-dry. For a movie that makes you think so much, the ending explained EVERYTHING to you. That is fine and seems to be Peele’s style, as it was like the ending of Get Out, where nothing was left to ambiguity. However, it doesn’t quite fit as good as it did with Get Out, which wasn’t nearly as full of symbolism as Us.

All in all, this is a great movie. The acting is Oscar-worthy, the story surprising, and the twist is magnificently done and very surprising. The mythology around the film holds up, forcing you to nitpick to find any inconsistencies. With its great performances and surprising story, Us is the best early film of 2019.