It would be unfair to label writer-producer-director Jordan Peele’s much-anticipated follow up to his Oscar winning concoction Get Out a sophomore slump. There are always those detractors who like to see an artist held in high critical esteem take a great fall from their lofty perch. I’m sure those folks already have their claws sharpened well in advance of the release of his latest film Us, but to label it a failure would be a great injustice.
While it’s true that it doesn’t reach the soaring heights of its predecessor, there are still enough interesting ideas at play to make Us an interesting curio if nothing else.
The film opens with an intriguing prologue set in 1986 at a seaside carnival. Peele does an excellent job with the period detail in these scenes. A young girl is spending an evening taking in the sight and sounds with her family. While her father is distracted by the game he’s ensconced in, the little girl wanders away and chances upon a funhouse.
Once inside she’s confronted by something that looks a lot like her but isn’t quite. The terrifying encounter caused endless trauma for the girl in the ensuing years, which is related throughout the film via flashbacks.
Moving ahead to the present day, the young girl is now a young woman, Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o), and with a family of her own. She’s convinced something terrible is about to befall her and those she loves. She senses something ominous in the air. Adelaide’s husband (Winston Duke), along with their two children, decide to spend the day with family friends at the beach which doesn’t turn out quite as enjoyable as expected. It’s when they return home for the evening that their situation takes a really bad turn as they are confronted by doppelgangers that apparently want to take over the family members’ identities, leaving the foursome to defend themselves against the evil entities.
This being a film by Jordan Peele, you expect that it’s going to be more than just a standard horror outing and it is indeed. For a while it appears that it’s just a simple terror tale, until little by little Peele begins to work in social messages of a similar brand that he blended so seamlessly with the horrors of Get Out. He introduces many ideas into the proceedings. Some of his ideas resonate and work perfectly. Unfortunately, he throws so much at the audience that it feels a bit like overkill with some of his ideas feeling a little undercooked and underdeveloped.
The bottom line is that, although Us can’t hold a candle to Get Out, Peele certainly deserves credit for attempting something as daring as this film. If only other directors were this bold in their second time at bat.
Image: Lupita Nyong’o in Us
is playing in Hickory at AMC.
Write Adam at firstname.lastname@example.org.