Us (2019): This Is “Us”

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“Us” is directed by Jordan Peele (Get Out, Keanu) and stars Lupita Nyong’o (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, 12 Years A Slave) Winston Duke (Black Panther, Person of Interest), Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale, Mad Men), and Tim Heidecker (On Cinema, Decker) in film where a family takes a trip to Santa Cruz. While trying to enjoy their vacation, they eventually encounter doppelgangers of themselves. Once this happens, scares, hijinks, blood, and gore are all to be witnessed.

This movie is helmed by Jordan Peele, whose work I have been exposed to in the past, but I was never truly invested in him. In fact, I have still yet to see “Get Out.” Admittedly, I was debating on watching “Get Out” the day before I went to see this film in the theater since I own the 4K for it, but that ultimately did not happen. But I did manage to catch “Us” on its opening Friday in RPX, because it was better for me timing-wise, despite being pricier than a standard theatre, I figured maybe it would probably provide some enhancements in the scares, and I have never seen an RPX movie before, so I figured I might as well start now. There were definitely some enhancements to be had, but I don’t want to dive too deep into the experience itself, but as far as the movie goes, I was definitely impressed. But part of me wonders… was I impressed enough?

To me, I am beginning to wonder if Jordan Peele is going to be the next Alfred Hitchcock. It is a little hard to tell given how he hasn’t directed too many films, but based on the reception “Get Out” has previously gotten, plus the thoughts given thus far on “Us,” including my own, I am thinking that is definitely possible. Although that will ultimately depend if Peele decides to continue writing and directing for films, which direction he decides to take, and if he comes out with more films that are well received. Granted, this movie is not perfect, and while there is a part of me that is saying this film is f*cking amazing, there’s another part of me that is a tad disappointed by particular aspects.

“Us” by itself is a scary, thrilling, and intriguing horror flick. There are definitely scares to be had, and it is also very mindbending. Based on the box office (this movie set a record for original horror films), this movie definitely has gotten a hand of general audience members out of their homes and into the cinema, but regardless of which demographics go out and see “Us,” it kind of felt like something I’d watch in an art house at certain points. Granted, there are a lot of elements that add up to mainstream horror, and luckily, those elements don’t appear to be the oldest cheap tricks in the book. But I feel like this movie had a sense of flavor that it probably wouldn’t have gotten if it weren’t for Jordan Peele.

I don’t follow Jordan Peele all that much but when it comes to “Us,” I really felt something from him. Not emotionally speaking, but I felt that his work on the film was a contribution to something that didn’t feel like it came out of a studio. This movie was distributed by Universal, and I am willing to bet based on “Get Out’s” success, they probably told Peele he can make whatever kind of movie he wants. I mean, what other guy would create a scene in a movie that is supposed to be scary, and the background music happened to be NWA’s “F*ck the Police?” And to my surprise, it somehow worked!

Let’s talk about Lupita N’yongo in this film. I’ve seen her in a number of films before including the newer “Star Wars” installments, “Black Panther,” the 2016 adaptation of “The Jungle Book,” and while she has proven herself to be a decent performer in those films, they weren’t exactly fantastic. This is especially true when you compare these performances to the one she gave in “12 Years a Slave.” It’s a movie I don’t often watch, but having watched it, it’s hard not to recognize the absolute talent of N’yongo. Her performance in “Us” honestly is more on par with the performance she gave in a movie like “12 Years A Slave.” That may be an overstatement, but to me, it’s true. Again, going back to imperfections, just because I think the performance was really good, didn’t mean I thought there was a lack of error. After all, there is one part in particular that I found to be rather awkward in terms of dialogue delivery, which occurs around the first third of the film. But overall, this is one of the better performances I personally have witnessed from N’yongo.

I also admired some of the scenes with Winston Duke’s character because he manages to pull off the role of that crazy, hyperactive father who always wants to, I dunno, live life. There’s a scene where he makes his family watch him on a boat, exclaiming for joy. He is willing to speak up against his opponents, and he just has this charm to him that again, goes back to Peele’s excellent writing ability. Without Peele as the nucleus operating everything, this could be a decent movie, but I think it got an uplift just because Peele was here.

And I will point out once again, despite the well deserved box office records, despite the positive reception, despite everything about this movie that can associate with lying in a pile of gold with no worries, the film is ultimately imperfect. While there is a lot to like, the one thing that drags this film down just a tad is the way the ending plays out. While there are definitely worse endings out there, it kind of left me feeling icky. Not grossed out, in fact, this is a horror film we’re talking about, so if I felt grossed out that might actually be a compliment. When I say I feel icky I mean that I feel like I have just caught a cold or something. I don’t want to get into spoilers, in fact, not only did this movie just come out, but if you haven’t seen it already, I highly recommend you do, especially on a big movie screen like I did. While a lot of the climax plays out in a way I actually admire (in fact, the best part of the score is in that portion of the film), the part I don’t particularly enjoy comes in around the tail end. If they changed that, not only would the ending be better, but I’d probably consider this film a master work. I have faith in Jordan Peele however, he seems to present himself as a showman, and if he continues to make horror films, or a film in another genre for that matter, chances are I’d be willing to check it out. In fact, one of the biggest praises I can give to “Us” is that it got yours truly, one who has yet to see “Get Out,” to become more curious as to giving that film a shot in the near future.

In the end, when I saw “Us,” I thought it was the movie for me. Possibly even for you, y’all, them, he, she, and we. Jordan Peele has demonstrated here that he is more than a comedian, kind of like John Krasinski successfully managed to do with “A Quiet Place.” And these aren’t exactly my words, I don’t know who I first heard them from, but they are still pretty relevant. I feel like a reason why these two are making good horror films has a lot to do with timing. As a couple of people who know how comedy tends to work, they seem to know that timing is everything when it comes to joke delivery. It’s almost like they’ve applied those same principles when it comes to scaring people. So… Seth Rogen? Stephen Merchant? Seth MacFarlane? Where’s your horror movie? I’m not asking for one, but seriously, where’s your horror movie? I’m going to give “Us” an 8/10. Thanks for reading this review! As someone who considers every attempt possible to keep up with the latest news provided in the film industry, I have been thinking about discussing one of the heaviest topics in said industry during recent days. As some of you know, Disney finally completed their 21st Century Fox acquisition, and part of me wants to come on here and discuss it simply because I am rather worried for the direction of the film industry in the near future. If I don’t have time to do that within the next week, I could talk about something else, because as mentioned, I just saw “Us” in RPX, which marked my first time in one of those auditoriums, so if I cannot talk about Disney and Fox, I have my backup topic. Stay tuned for whatever I do in the future regarding content, maybe it’ll be something completely different, I don’t know! Be sure to follow Scene Before with an email or WordPress account if you haven’t already! I want to know, did you see “Us?” What did you think about it? Or, did you see “Get Out?” Which of the two films is superior? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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