Cinemaster Score: 7.8/10
Us was easily one of the most hyped up movies – specifically in its horror genre – of 2019. Many folks were interested for the concept alone, while others had high expectations due to Jordan Peele helming it as director. Even after release, the population’s majority concluded that Us was “absolutely amazing!” Despite all this, we think Us is a bit overrated. To start, the direction from Jordan Peele is nowhere near what he’s capable of. There are also multiple moments of seemingly forced comedy. The script isn’t very memorable (even with great dialogue) and the story has a twist that – while not at all bad – is simply unnecessary. However, Us is still a good movie – albeit clearly less fantastic than many make it out to be. The cast present has outstanding abilities in acting – playing two very different characters at once. The concept is one that catches audiences and is executed on well. Just as importantly, Us is very enjoyable. It is loyal to the genre with scares here and there, yet has enough comedy that works to make you laugh. But Us is just as good to listen to – from a slowed down “I Got 5 On It” by Luniz, to the original score “Anthem” by Michael Abels – pulling you into the experience, fully immersed. Altogether – even if Us isn’t an exemplary film – it is a solid spectacle to watch.
Acting; The main stars of Us are Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Evan Alex, and Shahadi Wright Joseph. On their own they are tremendous actors with incredible talent – but together, they’re a near perfect group of performers. Not only do they manage to portray their characters on film with skill, but also their characters’ dopplegängers. Each actor provides a unique layer to the film with their performances, and in doing so they elevate Us beyond the average horror/thriller. While they all shine, the real star of the film is Lupita Nyong’o. She pulls in the viewer from the very first time she’s on screen and never lets up on her magnetic performance. The way she is able to seamlessly transition between her two characters is mesmerizing and the highlight of the film. Across the board, every one of these actors is excellent.
Script; Jordan Peele has already proven himself to be a highly capable writer throughout his career. From comedy sketches to his first feature film Get Out, he has shown an ability to entertain audiences in a variety of ways with his writing. Us is no exception to this statement. Each character is given a plethora of meaningful dialogue that progresses the film in natural and interesting ways. The plot is well balanced thanks to the tight writing and cohesive storytelling. And the amount of forced humor (which does undercut much of the tension) is thankfully used sparsely. However, it’s hard not to draw comparisons to Peele’s previous film, Get Out, considering the similar style on display. In many ways Us has a lackluster script when placed alongside Get Out’s, and yet, Us is still much better written than the majority of horror films of today. Because of that, the film is all the better.
Characters; Us has an array of different characters. The main family present consists of four members. There’s Gabe – the father taking up the role of comedic relief. Then there’s Zora, the older sister – fierce and competent. Jason is Zora’s younger brother – being quiet and borderline mysterious in his mannerisms. And last but certainly not least is Adelaide – our star protagonist. Each family member is unique enough, though they aren’t fleshed out much – save for Adelaide. More interesting than the main characters are their dopplegängers known as “the Tethered”. Each of these Tethered have a bloodlust, specifically for their dopplegängers. The main set of on-screen Tethered consists of Abraham, Umbrae, Pluto, and Red (respective to the order each family member was mentioned above). The back-and-forth tensions between the two contrasting sets of characters make for a great watch and cause the protagonist to be considerably more dynamic.
Direction; After his directional debut was a stunning success with Get Out, Jordan Peele began work on his second project. Peele’s sophomore film (Us) was another box office hit. Despite this, Us isn’t crafted nearly as well – especially considering we’ve already witnessed Peele effectively using more potential in the past. Specifically, the comedic relief Peele uses this time around only works on occasion. These attempts at comedy often bring extreme tonal shifts and breaks tension quickly. Peele also doesn’t fluently bring his story’s twist together with the characters he already set up. Fortunately, Jordan Peele nailed this film other than those two, fairly noticeable points. For only his second flick, he is still impressive – even if Us is a step down from what we know he’s capable of.
Story; The plot for Us is an “outside the box” kind of movie. Its base concept is reminiscent of 80’s sci-fi flick, C.H.U.D. That concept being a society of dopplegängers living underground and eventually coming out in murderous revolt. Following a family of four, Us starts like the average home-invasion thriller. However, things get further complicated. The family’s will is put into question in attempting fight off these ravenous renditions of themselves. Meanwhile, chaos ensues around the world. Then there’s a twist ending. But it’s a twist that feels almost ham-fisted in – being both unnecessary and difficult to make out. On the bright side, this twist doesn’t ruin the entirety of Us. Overall – in a day when horror films are mainstream entertainment – Us does a good job at catching audiences with its idea and executing to satisfy.
Enjoyment; Audiences might come out of Us having had a great time – and who’s to blame them? Not only is the story told at an entertaining (albeit slow) pace, but the characters within it are likeable and memorable. While it may not be as good as Jordan Peele’s previous film, Get Out, Us is probably the more enjoyable of the two. Both make you think, but Us is a much easier film to digest after viewing. At times the film does drag from being too caught up in a single scene or moment, and that will occasionally ruin the momentum of the movie’s plot. On top of that, some may be put off by the constant forced humor that undercuts much of Us’ more tense moments. Yet, altogether, Us is a satisfying sophomore effort on Jordan Peele’s part – and a good thriller at best.
David: “Heading into Us, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Unfortunately, I left the theater disappointed. Specifically, the forced comedy irritated me – having ruined potentially amazing scenes during high tension. It was good, but still a letdown. Hopefully Peele can get back on track with his future films.”
JP: “As soon as I finished watching Us, I couldn’t help but feel that the film was just way too overrated. Coming off the excellent reception of Get Out, I knew Peele wouldn’t have been able to replicate its success. Even so, I found Us a little disapointing in comparison, even though it’s good.”