Doune, SCOTLAND – With the spine-chilling Us now showing in cinemas around the world, it is clear that writer and director Jordan Peele has taken masterful control of a new genre.
Peele, who has been mostly recognized as half of the famous comedic duo ‘Key and Peele’ until now, has found an exciting niche that features a blend of classic horror, typical trope subversion and fresh social commentary.
The premise of Us – released March 22 – is simple in concept. A family on holiday in Santa Cruz, California finds themselves in a horrifying situation as they come face to face with identical copies of themselves, in red uniforms and brandishing scissors.
And while the doppelganger of main character Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) certainly provokes fear in the opening act, the twists and conspiracies revealed throughout the film cleverly establish an overarching sense of dread and horror. We have no choice but to watch as Peele presents a fairly predictable concept and transforms it into a gripping and powerful two hours of film.
This isn’t a first for Peele, however.
Peele had his directorial debut in early 2017 with the premier of his first film, Get Out. The movie quickly garnered media attention and acclaim as it revealed itself to be a thrilling view, but also an unflinching social commentary on racism in the United States.
Get Out combined a fantasy situation with very real issues to propel the film and director into a well-deserved spotlight. And while the pressure to produce another masterpiece may be too much for some, Peele instead proves he can not only deliver on public expectations, but exceed them in his second contribution.
Us may at first be a less obvious example of social commentary, but themes of xenophobia and class struggles are intertwined with the main story to give the audience some scary scenes but also food for thought.
For those who watch simply for some scares, don’t be afraid that this new film will only tackle social issues.
Us is undoubtedly terrifying and twisted and will keep you at the edge of your seat, biting your nails, from start to finish. While Nyong’o delivers a stellar performance of Lupita, the accompanying cast make sure that there are no weak links, with dramatic and comedic contributions from Winston Duke (Black Panther), Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale) and Shahadi Wright Joseph (Hairspray Live!).
The cast aren’t the only ones deserving of praise as the cinematography and music score perfectly add to the overall unsettling atmosphere that is ever present in Us. The ability to turn an upbeat and humorous song such as “I Got 5 on It” into a chilling and fearful accompaniment is excellent, to say the least.
The horror film genre isn’t the perfect fit for a lot of people and some may be dissuaded from watching Us solely based on the eerie promotional images or the trailer.
But I urge you to give this new film a chance as it is so much more than your average hour of jump scares and scary faces.
If you aren’t willing to spend money on a movie ticket just yet, give Peele’s Get Out a try first. While both films are vastly different in plot and execution they share similarities in subverting your expectations and producing an unexpected final product.
Though Us may belong to the horror genre, it is a film worthy of everyone’s attention.
Owen Ferguson is a Senior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.