“Us” will leave you unsettled


Universal Pictures

Lupita Nyong’o as Red in a promotional poster. “Us” grossed $29.1 million on its first day in box office sales.

“Us” is the long anticipated follow-up to Jordan Peele’s directorial debut, “Get Out”. The 2017 thriller established him as an up and coming force in the the horror genre and his second film does not disappoint. Juggling elements of horror, comedy, thriller and mystery, “Us” is able to deliver on all counts while managing to explore much larger and more ambitious themes than its predecessor.

A sunny vacation to a Santa Cruz lake house goes awry when a family’s doppelgängers show up to wreak havoc. It is a simple premise that quickly grows and evolves in unexpected ways. “Us” is a display of Peele’s keen understanding of what makes things unsettling: it isn’t necessarily about what is happening on screen, but what it forces you to think about.

The film’s premise offers a particularly difficult challenge for Peele because having doppelgängers in film requires each actor to play two different characters. Luckily for “Us,” Lupita Nyong’o absolutely shines throughout this film. Her performance, not just as Adelaide, the main character of the film, but as Red, her evil counterpart, is stellar. Both characters are distinct and their interactions are as convincing as they are disturbing. Of course, Nyong’o isn’t the only outstanding performance. The entire cast of supporting characters, including Winston Duke (as Adelaide’s husband), is fantastic.

I would not consider “Us” to be a scary movie. It doesn’t rely on jump scares or haunting imagery to get to you. Instead, the most disturbing part of “Us” comes when you think about the movie after the fact. Revelations during the film have you coming to realizations hours after you have left the theater. It’s a masterfully structured story that will lead you along its psychologically twisted ups and downs.

The trailers and marketing for “Us” lead you to believe that it is a fright fest all the way through, so what came as a surprise was the amount of comedic beats. Especially in the first half of the movie, the audience was chuckling much more frequently than they were jumping with fright. The jokes landed most of the time and overall added a fun personality to the movie. However, there were times I felt the comedy overstepped its bounds and took away from potentially horrifying moments, instead leaving the audience confused, rather than decisively scared or humored.

“Us” is a psychological thriller that will be celebrated for decades to come. The release this film is a triumph for director Jordan Peele as he has both successfully established himself as force in the modern horror genre and created what will be one of this year’s hottest Halloween costumes. By yourself or with some friends, “Us” is worth a watch, but don’t expect to have a joyful evening after leaving the theater.

The Parkway West Pathfinder gives “Us” a 9.5/10.