It looks like writer/director Jordan Peele is continuing to ride this horror train, and just made another stop with his newest flick, Us, starring Academy Award-winning actor Lupita Nyong’o and Black Panther’s Winston Duke, which hit theaters this past Friday (March 22). Will Peele be able to pull off another blockbuster hit like he did with 2017's Get Out? Click To Tweet Let’s get into this spoiler-free discussion.
In Us, we follow the Wilsons, a Black family consisting of the mother Adelaide (Nyong’o), the father Gabe (Duke), the teen daughter Zora (Shahidi Wright Joseph), and younger son Jason (Evan Alex) as they take a family road trip to Santa Cruz, California, Adelaide’s childhood home. Adelaide is obviously uneasy about returning to the house and the town that she grew up in; and, soon we find out why.
Once the family makes it to Santa Cruz and gets settled into the house, strange things start to take place as they’re preparing for bed. The Wilsons notice that there’s a family posted up at the end of their driveway, who looks just like them, but, instead, dressed in all red and brandishing large gold scissors that can and will slice through the toughest flesh with ease. It quickly becomes obvious that the Wilsons have something that their doppelgangers want: their lives.
I’ll admit that as I was introduced to the Wilsons, I was a little skeptical about them because they just didn’t seem to be the typical vacationing Black family. Growing up as a Black kid in the south, I’ve taken many road trips with my parents and my sibling, and this just didn’t resemble any of that at all. Little Jason made it his own personal pastime to curse every chance that he got, all while avoiding the wrath (something that you’d normally witness in a Black household) of his parents for even thinking about thinking about saying those types of words and telling his older sister to “kiss my anus”.
But, with a dad like Gabe, I guess I’d want to curse at him, too, just to relieve some of the stress of being raised by a man-child. Gabe certainly puts the ‘y’ in corny, with his unnecessary playfulness and lame attempts at telling jokes. The only—and I stress— ONLY cool thing that he did on the trip was hit the play button on “I Got 5 On It” by Oakland rap-duo Luniz, which immediately transported me back to my own childhood. But, other than that, almost every time Gabe opened his mouth to speak, I cringed, not anticipating the cornball phrases that I knew were going to come spewing out. I just couldn’t relate to this six-feet-five guy, who was, seemingly, the biggest goofball on the planet, with the worst coordination.
On the other hand, you have the mysterious serious matriarch, Adelaide, who’s obviously one of those helicopter parents and the true head of the family. From the beginning, I sensed that Adelaide was not thrilled about the trip, but was just going along with what the majority wanted. For the most part, she kept herself on alert and her eyes and ears fixed on her kids, just in case some weird shit popped off.
I think that the acting was pretty fucking superb. Especially, considering that the main characters had to play opposite themselves most of the time. Nyong’o and Duke displayed a wonderful chemistry together, along with the young actors who portrayed their children and the younger versions of Adelaide. There were many moments, for me, that just made me think that I was witnessing a real family go through this psychological horror roller coaster.
Could Lupita Nyong'o be headed for a second Academy-Award nomination and win for her dual-role in Us? Click To Tweet
Not only was Us one of the most cleverly-written original horror films; it was also a visual masterpiece. It appeared that many of the scenes were shot in the nighttime hours, but we didn’t have to struggle and strain, like we were treading through murky waters, to try to figure out what was going on visually. The lighting and the angles within each scene melded perfectly. The way that Peele focused on particular items in certain scenes allowed you to realize their significance and how they played a major part in his storytelling.
In my opinion, Peele’s writing was pretty spot-on. I would have to say that I could’ve done without some of Gabe’s dialogue. But, I assume Peele was moving full-speed with the whole corny-dad routine. Now that I think about it more, it did provide that comic relief that we needed during this heavy, blood-splattering, mind-fuck of a horror movie.
Once again, Peele has combined horror, suspense, comedy, and gore, all into one film. It’s pretty much the same thing that he did with his break-out directorial debut Get Out, and it worked. But, can he strike gold twice? Only time will tell. According to movie experts, Us is projected to knock Captain Marvel off her throne in its opening weekend.
I was late to the party on Get Out and caught it right before it was on its way out of the theaters. But, I played it differently this time around; I had my ass in the seat on opening night of Us, to see what Mr. Peele was serving up this time around. As I expected, he didn’t disappoint. And, neither did the phenomenal actors that he picked to bring his words to life.
Us is an instant horror classic that will keep tongues wagging and fingers tapping with all types of theories about the what, when, why, and how for several weeks to come.