Us is particularly upfront about its hatred for the unfairness of life, showing its vital understanding through both the unique story line and its absolute love of horror
Undermining Us with its ties to Get Out would be an unjust way to look at the pair. Just because writer/director Jordan Peele helmed both, Us’ impact on modern cinema and how it reflects a modern America should not be inhibited. The theming may well be similar, but they absolutely offer different ideas, stories, and most importantly messages on racial and class conflict currently plaguing the United States.
Get Out is a localised and personal view of how controlling racial hatred within the country can be, with Us choosing to broaden that, open it up to a wider societal view, and command its own thoughts on how the nation is impacted as a whole. Us has huge amounts to say on these wider issues, and that gives it a global sensation, boasting themes, when placed in almost any first world country, fit perfectly, not just the US.
On a family trip to Santa Cruz, Adelaide (Lupita Nyongo) and Gabe (Winston Duke) take their children to the home where they spent many of their childhood summer holidays. Nostalgic and wary, Adelaide is constantly reminded of a terrifying experience she suffered as a young girl, desperate to stay away from the powerful memories. However, when their home is invaded by intruders resembling themselves, the family is thrust into a night of terror they all find horrifyingly personal.
It’s clear that Peele is desperate to explore these issues, call them out, and ultimately envisage them as an alternate and disturbing universe. Us is particularly upfront about its hatred for the unfairness of life, showing its vital understanding through both the unique story line and its absolute love of horror.
Central characters Adelaide and Red, both performed majestically by Lupita Nyong’o, show the divide in its most human realisation. Nyong’o has detailed herself how creating two characters so intense offered her a challenge unlike those she has taken on previously. Asserting to BBC Radio 1:
‘This movie stretched me, it bent me, it cost me a whole lot’
This wider understanding is however instilled into each of the film’s characters, it’s just most evident through Nyong’o, and that leaves behind a sense of heavy but controlled anarchy with a love for horror imagery. Us understands how to balance its love of film and critique of America without removing its core point or losing any of its admiration for pure cinema.
Peele is a master of detail and foreshadowing, so by offering such incredible insight, it becomes impossible to consume everything entirely in one viewing. The final scenes are there to understand or predict from almost the opening moments, but they are absolutely not given away. Reasoning behind subsequent actions, dialogue, even costumes, are exposed to the audience across the whole piece, and not only does this offer a level of complete storytelling, but it gives the film a purpose only few productions are able to imitate. This level of foresight is often limited to classics in the realm of The Usual Suspects or The Prestige, forcing Us into its intricate standing that constantly offers fresh insight and ambiguous interpretation.
It’s possible to even avoid mentioning the humour and the body horror, key parts to the film that add to its visual and overall appeal, when caught up in the deeper meaning of the piece. The timing of some of the feature’s key jokes is interesting, but so obvious it is evidently intentional, adding another layer to Us’ overarching appeal. There is no hiding from the film’s ability to lead the way for modern horror, but never does it act as a distraction or an outward distaste. Peele is an expert at creating unsettling atmospheres and truly understands the horrors of the wider world, and what makes them scary.
Us is majestic and beautiful, intricate and tortuous, offering its insight as if it were spoken from atop a soapbox. The understanding of Peele’s vision it complete and projected, and without swaying from its initial intention, Us builds dramatically and continuously to dread-filled, excruciatingly tense, and bitingly ambiguous final scenes that offer ideas most film makers dare only to dream of.
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