Us

Us ★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

“Therefore thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them.“ - Jeremiah 11:11

Us is not Get Out.  It’s messier, more complex, more ambitious, more twisted. In Peele’s last film, the target was white liberals. This time, we’re all in his line of fire, and the scale of the film reflects that. Despite some flaws in pacing, Us is a frightening, funny, and fucked up film. 

SPOILER TERRITORY GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT 

The twist at the finale confused me at first, but it’s more terrifying the more I think about it. Copy Adelaide robbed Real Adelaide of her life. For most of the film, the audience assumes it’s just a home invasion thriller, and Peele does an excellent job directing it, ratcheting up the tension as the story moves along. It’s helped by the soundtrack, which is a truly perfect mix of classic songs (you’ll never hear “Good Vibrations” the same again) and the ominuous, haunting orchestral score by Michael Abels. The cast brings it, especially Lupita and Winston. Lupita! She gives one of my favorite performances in any horror film. By the end, you assume that the worst is over, and that we have a “happy” ending. We don’t.

Copy Adelaide has killed her real self, and preserved her status aboveground as a member of humanity - the part of humanity that matters. Jason seems aware that something is off, but the wicked smile his mother gives him at the end silences his doubts. You truly can’t know your family, no matter how close you are to them. Now let’s talk about “Hands Across America”. Planned in 1986, and featuring a smorgasbord of celebrities and government officials including the President, the chain, which expanded from California to New York, represented America taking a stand against hunger. Real Adelaide’s chain was a symbol of victory, of a rightful return to the surface. 

But Hands Across America didn’t end hunger. Only $15 million out of the $34 million raised by donations actually went to helping out those in need. America acknowledged its problems, briefly - then shoved them aside once more. That’s why, when the family asks the copies who they are, real Adelaide responds by saying, “we’re Americans.” The copies in Us are just what Peele said they were: the worst parts of ourselves. They’re in the same boats Americans who did nothing and only lipserviced the issues we face. Now that they’ve risen up and united their hands across the country, what comes next? Will a nation finally deal with past sins? 

On another level, you could argue the film is about class in America. The copies are the poor: they live below ground, have no luxuries, and never see the sun. The Wilsons are the middle class: they have some luxuries, but they’re not rich. The Tylers are extremely rich, but unhappy. No wonder they die so quickly. Copy Adelaide fought her way from the bottom rungs of society to secure herself. No wonder she sympathizes with the copies of her children. 

Admittedly, this is a thorny, convoluted film, one that refuses to answer your questions. I can see why parts of Film Twitter won’t like it on that aspect. And, as I said, there are some flaws. The pacing in the third act is strange, the expositional monologue may come off as weird (though I’d argue it works given how the character feels), and the humor isn’t as obvious as Get Out. Still, the flaws are outweighed by the stunning technical values, great acting, and the disturbing mood of dispair that haunts the film. 

We all have dark sides. Us forces the viewer to confront that, and the mixed response was almost inevitable. The reactions are as varied as America itself, and it’s on the viewer to decide what they’re seeing in the mirror.

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