Us, at first, circumvents a lot of what you expect from a horror/thriller. However, after a while, it overstays it’s welcome and its ending? Well…
|Screenplay By||Jordan Peele|
|Good If You Like||Seeing Black People Live Till The End Of The Movie
Light Comedy In Your Horror
|Isn’t For You If You||Are Looking For Jump Scares
A Whole Lot Of Explanation About What Is Going On
|Adelaide/ Red||Lupita Nyong’o|
|Young Adelaide||Madison Curry|
|Zora||Shahadi Wright Joseph|
Us Plot Summary (Ending Commentary on 2nd Page)
In Santa Cruz, 1986, something traumatic happened to Adelaide that left her mute for quite some time. However, in present day, while shaken, she seems fine. I mean, she has a husband, Gabe, a daughter, Zora, and a son she adores named Jason. By all means, she should be happy. However, with Gabe taking them on a trip to Santa Cruz comes a bit of fear of encountering the past. A past which isn’t so much a thing but a person – one out for revenge.
High Caliber Drama
Trauma is the staple of horror movies, especially when starring women. However, very few have the talents of Nyong’o and what she brings is the kind of legitimacy to the horror genre which reminds you how the genre is rooted in either the character’s or writer’s worst fears. All of which Nyong’o brings to life in subtle ways like having a difficult time with intimacy, communicating with strangers, and also in more extravagant ways as she portrays her alter Red.
Red’s Voice & How Twisted She Seems
From the smile to the voice, Red is the type of character who, as she struggles to talk, you are both lured in deeper yet constantly left fearing a jump scare. For as Red speaks about her life, what has happened to her, you almost want to feel bad for her. Maybe hope there could be some kind of compromise, but as you come to realize that was taken off the table long ago, you may want to end up rooting for Red.
There Goes Their Childhood
Strangely, the loss of innocence when it comes to Zora and Jason is one of the best parts of the film. Perhaps because you don’t often see Black children in horror films, never mind Black children being shown as innocent. Take Zora, for example, yes she is on her phone a lot, but she isn’t trying to curse out Adelaide or Gabe. Their family, if anything, is normal.
Well, Jason is a little weird, due to his love of masks, but that could be explained in a multitude of ways. Not explicitly for us, but you can make educated guesses. Be it because he thinks he is ugly, it’s part of his magic fantasy, a simple fascination with masks, among other ideas.
Us is not radically Black, but between Adelaide teaching Jason about rhythm, Gabe’s comment about Adelaide leaving a key outside like white people, and things like that, the characters are made to be culturally Black. Also, and maybe this is just important to me, having the parents and children being medium to dark-skinned seemed rather important. Not just for Nyong’o being the lead, treated as desirable, and a wonderful mother, but also the kids since this is a significant role for both. Not to downplay their past work, or Joseph voicing a young Nala in The Lion King, but with it so often seeming light skinned or ethnically ambiguous actors being pushed to the forefront, seeing both the adults and kids being undeniably Black brings about a sense of pride. Especially since it isn’t just in skin tone but culture.
It’s Ending It’s Kind of Meh
Call me jaded, but the ending was kind of meh. Granted, part of the reason was the movie feels longer than it needs to be. However, there is also the issue of all the hype surrounding the movie which pushes you to think Peele has the ability to reinvent the wheel. But, in the end, while a creative man, who definitely pushes the horror genre past what many do, there are but so many ways to end a movie, and he chose a way to end Us that you’ve seen before.
On The Fence
Understanding Why Gabe Got With Adelaide
With the way Adelaide acts, so comes the question of what led to her and Gabe getting together? She doesn’t have the best social skills, isn’t necessarily the most intimate, so what’s the attraction here? Not just for Gabe but Adelaide too? For despite Nyong’o and Duke being absolutely beautiful, their chemistry is a bit lackluster.
Overall: Mixed (Divisive) | Purchase, Rent, or Get Merchandise On Amazon | Get Tickets From Fandango
The good outweighs the bad, number wise, but between a meh ending, this overstaying its welcome, and lack of chemistry in its leads, Us just barely misses being labeled positive. Yet, between Nyong’o’s performance, the way the children lose their innocence, and it presenting Black characters in skin tone and culture, I must admit I feel like I’m nitpicking when it comes to the criticism.
But, let’s put it this way, Us is a thinking person’s horror. One which is pursuing a quality story more than jump scares. Hence why a grand finish was expected. Yet, with it limping like Gabe towards the end, it’s hard to not feel a bit disappointed.