REVIEW: Jordan Peele’s Us – the new nightmare


Courtesy of Blumhouse Productions & Monkeypaw Productions

Holly Edwards-Smith, Reporter

I was first introduced to Jordan Peele in 2012 with the American comedy series Key and Peele. Along with Keegan-Michael Key, Peele wrote and acted in various skits.

Flash forward five years to 2017, and Peele is being talked about as a critically acclaimed film director for his debut film Get Out.

Get Out was a phenomenon. Earning US$255.4 million in the box office, Peele won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Every talk show or entertainment report was talking about Peele and how he, a first-time director, had created this thought-provoking mystery thriller making waves in Hollywood and across the world.

But that’s not why we’re talking about Jordan Peele in 2019.

Just over a year after the release of Get Out, Peele released a poster for his next project: US. The trailer dropped on Christmas Day 2018 and the hype around its release has been relentless. The film premiered in the United States, Germany and Brazil on 22 March this year and is currently rated 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. It would be an understatement to say I have been excited about this release. As a scary movie enthusiast, it has been refreshing to see the genre receiving more commercial promotion and acclaim.

Us follows the Wilson family of four. The protagonist, Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o), returns to Santa Cruz. Haunted by her childhood there, Adelaide becomes increasingly paranoid. Her family, unaware of her traumatic past, becomes caught in the nightmare she was so afraid of. A family’s worst fear realised: overpowered in a house invasion. The terrifying ordeal is heightened when the attackers are their own mirror image. Doppelgängers.

This film is full of Easter eggs and twists and turns. Some plotlines have been done and seen before and the idea of the movie is highlighted in the trailer. I will not spoil the film in this review, don’t worry. If you haven’t seen the trailer, watch it.

There are aspects of the movie you may be confused about. I was. Afterwards most, if not all will make sense and you can sit back, reflect and truly appreciate Jordan Peele’s process. He understands the genre.

In order to set up characters and storylines, movies can have a somewhat slow start. Us is not one of those movies. The characters and themes are established well, but it was not slow. From the get-go you are on the edge of your seat, analysing the scenes and characters.

Peele wrote, directed and produced this film and boy did he do well. The direction throughout is impeccable. Various camera techniques create confusion and fear from the turn of a lens. In many cases, film protocol is challenged and it pays off. Shaky cam and continuous shots are often jarring and cringy, but in Us they work to create unease and paranoia.

If you love being unnerved, uncomfortable and nervous, this is the movie for you. Not only does it evoke all the indicative emotions associated with the horror/thriller genre, but it provides an underlying social commentary which is eye opening.

If you aren’t a fan of movies addressing political and social issues, don’t worry. The movie does address these issues, yet you have to look and interpret to find them; Peele doesn’t try too hard. He finds the perfect balance. It’s a movie where if you watched it again, you’d find new Easter eggs to unpack.

Despite being completely terrified by the action in the film it is hard to miss the talent of the actors involved.

Nyong’o was outstanding. Almost impossible to fault. Her performance made sense and her vocal and facial choices add to the distress of the viewer and thicken the storyline which surrounds her characters. Winston Duke’s characterisation of Adelaide’s husband Gabe and his doppelgänger Abraham is thorough. You can tell he completely immersed himself into this world and the addition of light humour provided by Duke adds a completely new layer to the film.

The performances of the younger actors Shahadi Wright Joseph (Zora Wilson) and Evan Alex (Jason Wilson) are not overshadowed. They each complete a noteworthy performance and hold their own within the film.

In any horror movie sound plays an integral part of adding suspense and creating anticipation before a climax occurs on screen. The sound production in Us does that and more. I am not a musician, but each deep note and scratchy sound overlaid through eerie and terrifying tracks successfully made my toes curl up. I actually had to sit on my feet, as I was too afraid that my own doppelgänger would reach from under the chair and grab them.

Gaining traction around the world, Perth’s very own Luna Leederville has chosen Us for their program. Luna’s marketing and promotions manager Tony Bective gave us an insight into why the film was selected.

“It’s Jordan Peele. It’s Get Out”.

The film is unlike any horror we have seen before and Bective is a fan of new wave horrors which “frighten the heebie-jeebies out of us.”

Having not yet seen the film, Bective didn’t know what Us would deliver.

“I cannot wait to see it.”

You shouldn’t wait either. Us delivers its promise to be a new nightmare.

Us – 9/10