Us: Film Review

Where does one start with a review of Us? The film is so layered, complex and full of hidden meaning that I couldn’t even attempt to write my review immediately after I saw it – it leaves you thinking and I needed time to process it first. I’m still mulling it over in my head but I’ve read a lot of helpful think pieces so I feel ready to give it a go.

Lupita Nyong’o stars as Adelaide Wilson, who goes on holiday near Santa Cruz with her husband Gabe (Winston Duke), daughter Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and son Jason (Evan Alex). One night they are confronted by their doppelgangers and all hell breaks loose.

I have deliberately kept my plot summary basic because I think Us is best enjoyed when you have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen. The trailer gave the impression that it was going to be a supernatural home invasion horror but, given that this is Jordan Peele‘s follow-up to Get Out, you know that it would be more than that and would be charged with many other themes and meanings. If you were expecting a mindless horror, you should have known better.

Us plays out in the home invasion way initially and it is tense as hell. The first half is more easily enjoyable, fun to watch and there are more killings and obvious horror moments. I wouldn’t really describe it as “scary”, it was more tense than anything else, and some horror fans may be disappointed by this – but again, if you’ve seen Get Out, you should know what to expect from Peele. The second half gets more confusing as things get weird and don’t add up but then there’s the big twist and everything makes sense (almost).

I’m not the best for picking up on clues in films – I’m pretty terrible actually – so imagine my surprise when I called the big twist within the first 20-30 minutes! I had abandoned it and just let myself be told the story but when it was confirmed at the end I was like “I KNEW IT!” That didn’t ruin the film for me because I sort of forgot about it midway through. I could do with watching it again to pick up on all the signs, because there were loads (in retrospect) and certainly enough for most people to catch on to the reveal.

A lot has already been said about Nyong’o’s performance and it is genuinely deserving of the hype. Just wow. I was so impressed. Playing two people is hard, especially one so messed up. The voice, the physicality – it was all excellent. It is so layered, clever and skillful. Duke was the light relief, Joseph kicked butt and Alex was a bit creepy. Elisabeth Moss adds great value to whatever she’s in, no matter how small her part.

I was excited for it for a long time and I wanted to love it, but I came away feeling unsatisfied. I believe it’s a well made film and Peele has a stunning vision and I’ve gained more appreciation for it since reading up on the meanings, and will probably like it more with repeat viewings, but I was left wanting initially. Us is complicated and so very, very smart, and basically too smart for me to decipher. I got the twist and what that meant for the story and the characters but I couldn’t really get the overall point Peele was trying to make, and I’ve had to read up on some articles for help.

But please don’t let that put you off – it is a film that deserves to be seen – the idea is bold and exciting, the cast are sensational, the music is freaking excellent (the I Got 5 on It remix is incredible) and it will stay with you for days.

In cinemas now 

(Rating: 4/5)

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