116 minutes | Rated R
Jordan Peele’s Us is a far cry from the comedies he started with on Key & Peele and Keanu. Many are hailing him as a new “master of suspense.” While not quite as good as his “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” by way of “The Twilight Zone” masterpiece “Get Out,” his new film Us is very good. It stars Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke as a young couple.
As a child, Nyong’o suffered a traumatic experience at the beach at Santa Cruz. She wandered away from her parents and became lost in a seaside amusement park’s hall of mirrors where she encountered a young girl that looked exactly like her. Cut to the present day where her husband, Duke, has convinced her to allow him to take her and their children, a nearly teenage daughter and her younger brother, on a beach vacation to Santa Cruz.
At the beach, all seems to be going well, until their son wanders off to use the restroom. Nyong’o freaks out and frantically searches for him. They find him and return to the home where they are staying. Things calm down a bit until the son announces that, “There’s a family in the drive-way.” Duke looks out of the window and discovers that there is indeed a family of four standing in the shadows in the drive-way. Nyong’o wants to call the police. Duke calms her down and goes outside to talk to them. He politely asks them to leave. They remain standing in silence. Duke threatens to call the police. They remain. Duke ramps up the aggression and gets a baseball bat. The father rushes Duke gets the bat and injures his leg. The mother and children split off and break into the home from other points. The mother orders Nyong’o to handcuff herself to the table. We see that the family in the drive-way is a darkly twisted version of Nyong’o and her family. (The same actors play both roles.) The daughter, who wanted to quit track is ordered to “run” she complies and her duplicate gives chase. The son, who enjoys magic tricks, and hide and seek, is ordered to “play” with his duplicate. The mother then begins to tell her story.
Us is an excellent movie, although not quite as good as the Oscar nominated “Get Out.” Lupita Nyong’o gives a stellar performance in both roles. There is a lot of foreshadowing and interesting visual imagery. That may mean something upon multiple viewings. For instance, near the beginning of the film, we are shown a classroom with one wall full of rabbits in cages. Most of these rabbits are white. However, there are three dark rabbits whose placement forms a triangle. Later in the film there is a scene in an abandoned subway station, where there are rabbits all over the place. I am not sure what the rabbits have to do with anything, but upon seeing the film a few more times I may figure it out.
Us is rated R for violence, language, and frightening imagery. It should be fine for older teens and up. I rate it four out of five shears.