Written by RS Lewis
The Drunken Insomniac Writer.
Coming off the success of Get Out, Jordan Peele released Us this past weekend. The critically anticipated, psychological horror flick about evil doppelgangers known as the Tethered.
I will try my best to give my honest opinion with very few spoilers. But this movie needs explaining for the average movie goer especially when you look at the critic reviews vs moviegoer reviews.
After viewing Us, I was relieved to say that Peele’s vision of horror stood strong but it was only after processing what my brain had seen that I could really give my honest opinion. I won’t lie, I went back and forth a lot with this movie because it wasn’t entirely what I expected. At first I thought there is a lot of filler in the beginning but then I was immediately taken away as I realized that all of the things I saw were clues as well as homages to other horror flicks. The start of the movie came in strong, giving us a relatable connection to the main protagonist, Adelaide, with her as a kid wandering off on the boardwalk and into a “hall of mirrors”. She quickly experiences something so scary, she is unable to speak for a while and is diagnosed with PTSD. I got goosebumps looking at the set behind her as the scene is set in Santa Cruz (pay attention fellow Lost Boys fans).
Her trauma is later repressed since she later revisits that same childhood vacation home with her family as an adult. Despite some hesitation she agrees to tag along to the beach and near that same boardwalk with her Husband, Gabe played by Winston Duke as well as their children, Zora (Shahadi Wilson Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex). It is here where we meet family friends, The Tyler’s and their twin teenage girls. Adelaide later begins to remember more of what happened as a kid the longer the family stays. And all is well until the Tethered come showing up on the Wilson’s front step later that evening. It is here that we discover Red, Adelaide’s doppelganger is the leader and the only clone that can speak.
Murder and mayhem ensues basically from this point forward.
Even though parts of Us felt weird… once I watched again, it made more sense. It dawned on me that this horror movie is not a movie for every horror fan, especially not today’s horror fan.
The mixed reviews I had seen and heard plagued me to post my own review. Why? Because there were things I felt separated this movie from other horror movies and more notably Jordan Peele’s preceding flick. Us took me back to when movies were more visual and psychological. However it is this same premise that causes it to unravel a bit. That being said, when seeing this, keep the following in mind.
- “Us” is not “Get Out”.
- This horror movie is not a slasher flick.
- It’s not at an intense nail-biting thriller.
- It’s not a supernatural thriller horror movie.
- It doesn’t rely on bunch of jump scares or gore either.
That does not mean that Us isn’t a good horror movie because effectively it is. If you’re a fan of The twilight Zone, The Outer Limits or other similar shows like that, then you’ll love Us because it makes your brain go to that dark place hours after watching. While it does have blood and of course kills, you’re not going to see buckets of blood. What you will see is a horror film for hardcore horror fans. And if you’re the theological type, you will get the reference of that infamous Bible scripture, Jeremiah 11:11, plastered all over the flick.
That being said it is not without sin. Us is successful in setting up excellent character development and strategically placed clues (Easter eggs) that don’t blatantly foreshadow the ending like some cliché horror flicks. This is good because you root for and are concerned for the wellbeing of the main characters. However the same may not be said for the Tyler’s who come off as shallow and empty. It makes their roles come off with a “meh” feeling. But when thinking about what occurs to the Wilson Family in the 2nd act, you will see why.
Also the pacing does not completely hold me until the final confrontation. What does captivate me is mostly because of Lupita Nyong’o’s Adelaide-character. However, the ending from the POV of the youngest Wilson kid honestly gave me chills. His acting is really good. It brings me to the realization that unlike a lot of horror movies containing the kids that are usually annoying… cough cough (Bird Box and He’s Out There) cough cough… In fact both Wilson kids are badass and smart. Zora definitely proves to be a tough little mama.
The flick goes on to explain a lot towards the end. I think that while the exposition part between the main protagonist and antagonist is cool, it’s too much for this kind of paced film in the 3rd act. It almost feels as if we are being crammed with a lot of info with only a short amount of time left. While abstract on screen, it leaves a lot of plot holes. But then I thought about those clues placed in plain sight in the beginning of the film. The most notable, A VHS video of CHUD or (Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers) about the forgotten homeless people living in the sewers of NY that turn into monsters after exposure to toxic chemicals. Much like the Tethered, the CHUDs come above ground to wreck shit! Pretty much after they eat all of the other (uninfected) homeless folk living below ground, they creep from out of the sewers. It is later noted that the government has been hiding toxic waste in the tunnels beneath NY in sections labeled, “Contamination Hazard Urban Disposal.”
So what about that Bible quote, Jeremiah 11:11? In case you are lacking a Bible or Google, it says:
“Therefore thus saith the LORD: Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto Me, I will not hearken unto them.”
Well that says a lot since God was angry at the Jews for breaking their covenant (10 Commandments) despite warnings from the prophet Jeremiah. And if you’re familiar with Old Testament God, he basically vows to unleash some smiting in order to stop the Jews’ ways of idolatry. God basically agrees to let their own evil come upon them and be their own undoing. And no matter how much the beg and pleased, He ignores them. This comes to mind when you think about the Tyler’s who “worship” their wealth as well Gabe who slightly envies that. So much that he buys a crappy boat in the beginning.
I won’t go heavily into the Bible but once you understand what Red explains to Adelaide…it comes together as she’s basically the one who planned this revenge-fueled uprising.
I have to applaud Peele for the variety that this type of horror film provides as well as the cast playing dual roles. The premise behind the Tethered is that everyone has a dark version of themselves dwelling beneath the surface. Although I feel often times, the plot of Us is lost behind the message of this bigger picture, I still feel that Peele has a long successful career ahead of him.
Don’t get it twisted, this flick will leave you confused after watching and you will have tons of questions if you overthink it. But again it’s still a great movie and the fact above do not make it an inferior film to Get Out… it just makes it more spread out and the latter with a more tightly draws conclusion. Sometimes the movie feels all over the place and I think that’s the point of the film especially with the repeating of the whole Hands Across America Thing… remember that crazy fundraiser from the 80s? If not it means I’m Old AF! Once you watch the movie, you will know I mean.
I don’t want to forget that the comedic timing in this flick is actually quite well laid out. It’s not forced and it’s quite funny especially when you think the same thing all black folks think watching a horror movie. Winston Duke is truly hilarious at times and it is Peele’s comedic talents that shine in his direction that make the funny moments work. The supporting cast is good and although we don’t go deep into their characters. The fact they have to play dual roles as well, is phenomenal. Did I mention that the direction is great? My advice… keep an open mind & check it out.
Til Later Kiddies,
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