Movie Review: Us

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved a good horror movie. The sense of dread, the chilling performances and the tense music are what give the horror genre its unique feel; leaving many, including myself, wanting to see more. In director Jordan Peele’s latest cinematic release, Us, traditional horror movie elements are present, but ultimately fall flat, in a very symbolic film about a family fighting to survive.

Us follows the story of Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o) as her and her family move back to her hometown of Santa Cruz, California. The trip starts out fine, but after a strange encounter on the beach, Wilson and her family must learn to combat something that’s more similar to themselves than they could have ever imagined.

While Nyong’o’s ability to play multiple characters was impressive, her voice for Red was more distracting than scary

Right off the bat, I would not consider this movie to be anywhere near the level of Peele’s previous horror film, Get Out. Even though Peele was a much newer director when Get Out was released, it felt like a much more polished movie than Us; having a more concise and easy to understand plot. While Us attempts to reveal minimal details about the background to make it mysterious and interesting, it ends up having “Bird Box syndrome” in that it reveals too little about the supernatural force to make it scary. Get Out was the perfect blend of symbolism while still having a coherent and scary plot. Us, on the other hand, leans so far on the side of symbolism that it sacrifices horror elements as well as a compelling narrative altogether.

The acting in Us was one of the more notable aspects of the film for me. Lupita Nyong’o’s performance as the mother was impressive, and her ability to play two slightly different versions of “herself” was entertaining to watch. The only thing that bothered me about her performance was the voice she chose to do while playing the alter-ego of herself, Red. Red has some of the most important lines of dialogue in the movie but for whatever reason, Nyong’o decided to voice her as if she was a prepubescent boy doing a Gollum impression. Obnoxious voices aside, Nyong’o had a solid performance, and I’m excited to see her in more movies in the future.

As for other things I liked about Us, the score and cinematography were a lot better than a typical horror movie. I really enjoyed some of the ways that the characters were framed in the movie, especially when Nyong’o and her family first meet their “shadows” in their living room. Another well shot scene in the movie is where Nyong’o is first walking around a carnival as a child; I really enjoyed the pacing of the scene. The editing of the film was also above average, although it really didn’t compensate for the other issues I found with the film.

The framing in Us was one of the more interesting aspects of the film to me.

All in all, Us definitely is not a film I’m eager to watch again. The lack of any real tension throughout takes away from a lot of the film for me, and the draining sound of Red’s voice is something I would not like to hear again. If you are looking for a movie that has many layers of symbolism to it, or just want to see Jordan Peele’s follow up to Get Out, I would recommend to wait until it goes to accessible streaming platforms or when you can purchase it for a cheaper price. This film definitely makes me have a shadow of a doubt over what Peele will make in the future.