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  • Writer's pictureMax Markowitz


Brilliantly Entertaining

Jordan Peele’s Us is a very overwhelming film. I’ve had to see it three times to properly review it. I was so entertained the first time I saw it, my judgment regarding the quality of the filmmaking was completely clouded.

Us is about Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o) who with her husband Gabe, (Winston Duke) daughter Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and son Jason (Evan Alex) returns to her childhood beach home in Santa Cruz for the summer. Traumatized from an event from her past, Adelaide is fully convinced that something terrifying is going to befall she and her family. She is proven right when she sees her doppelgänger and her family (Referred to as The Tethered) standing out in her driveway.

From this point on, Us is dedicated completely to Wilson’s fight for survival as well as the Tethered’s motives. Us contains a significant amount of violence but also a tremendous amount of comedy and I was at times very conflicted about how I should have felt watching Us.

The problem with Us is all of its ideas were sharp, original and clever but the writing never expanded on them. Us was trying to sing us a very important song but Peele made it so audiences only heard the music but not the lyrics. Fortunately, the film is way too entertaining for most audiences to care. Audiences love to laugh and they love to grasp and Jordan Peele was at least able to provide that.

There’s a difference between expecting to get scared and wanting to get scared. Audiences wanting to get scared will be very disappointed with Us. I was terrified the first time I saw it, but that was only because it’s ideas really punched me in the ribs. No one wants to be their own worst enemy but sadly, Us is not serious enough of a film to truly make us feel this way. It only made me feel that way because I understood that’s what Jordan Peele was trying to say and that did frighten me.

The acting was truly just ok. That sounds bad but it’s not meant to be. All of the characters were portrayed exactly as they were written. I felt some of the characters ought to have been written more seriously. Furthermore, I think the whole movie could have been written a little more seriously. Us truly had a lot of promises but none of them were kept. The only performances that I can truly applaud is that of Lupita Nyong'o and Elisabeth.

Lupita Nyong’o gives Adelaide both fear and strength. You can taunt her and yet, you can’t mess with her. She gave her doppelgänger (Red) lots of creativity. Red’s voice is interesting but not scary. You can immediately tell she’s been betrayed in some big way. To what extent, you’ll have no idea but you’ll trust it’s extreme enough for her to seek retribution in the ways that she does.

Elisabeth Moss’s Kitty Tyler (A family friend of Adelaide’s) is a stereotypical rich white privileged brat. Her eyes sparkle with glee as she flaunts her botox face to Adelaide and they narrow as she tells her how annoying her husband (Tim Heidecker) is and that she only thinks about murdering him every second. As sick as it sounds, this makes her violent scenes easier to stomach. Her doppelgänger is equally hilarious. She puts on lipstick and smiles in a very creepy fashion and she cries but no sound comes out. If Moss could make me laugh any more than she had, I’d have a fatal heart attack.

Us is a brilliantly entertaining film. I absolutely loved it because of how funny it was. The quality of the filmmaking just wasn't what I expected but that’s ok. Some people just go to the movies to be entertained and Us will give them that brief escape from their daily lives.

Like a complete and utter idiot, I told everyone how great the filmmaking was before I saw it because I had complete faith and trust in Peele to make the film serious as the genre of horror really has become more mature within the last few years. Films that support this statement include The Witch, The Blackcoat’s Daughter, The Neon Demon and Hereditary.

Us is not one of these films and it is through no fault but my own that I put too much faith in it before seeing it. I thought I didn't have any high expectations before going to see it but after seeing it three times, I suppose that I did. Oh, well. Peele made what he made. Us is not his first film and it won’t be his last. Every film he does is just one step closer to his next one.

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