I must admit I came to the Jordan Peele party late which is unacceptable for a horror fan I know.
The issue for me was how hyped Get Out was when it came out and as I didn’t see it when it was released the hype just grew. Worried it wouldn’t live up to the rave reviews I bided my time and instead watched every series of Key and Peele the comedy show that gave Jordan Peele and his partner Keegan-Michael Key there big break.
After all the articles I had seen from journalists saying what a shock it was for a comedy writer to make a horror film I was surprised to find that not only did each series feature a Halloween special full of horror sketches but frequently Key and Peele inverted horror clichés and conventions in their comedy from J-Horror jokes to vampire parodies to Walking Dead piss takes and more.
The leap from making horror comedy shorts to a full feature was not such a strange thing for Jordan Peele and when I finally did watch the masterpiece that is Get Out I appreciated even more how he enthused the horror with humour playing with the audience perfectly along the tight terrifying trip into a nightmare version of Meet the Parents.
Determined not to make the same mistake with Us I got my hands on a copy as soon as I could and it seems yet again Jordan Peele has perfectly pealed back societies psyche and revealed a horrifying dark dream underneath.
The plot opens in 1986 when a young girl visiting a beach side fair in Santa Cruz wanders off from her parents and has a disturbing experience in the hall of mirrors that makes up the Vision Quest attraction. Many years later that girl has grown into Adelaide Wilson (12 Years a Slave’s Lupita Nyong’o) and with her family she is back in Santa Cruz on holiday.
Unnerved by the proximity to her childhood horror Adelaide is convinced something bad is going to happen even though her husband Gabe (Black Panther’s Winston Duke) and two kids try to set her mind at ease. But Adelaide is right something is coming for her and late one night it arrives with its family in her backyard and it won’t leave until it has had its revenge.
Although sharing themes of identity and humanity with Get Out Jordan Peele’s second feature as writer and director borrows more from the home invasion genre blending this with a heavy dose of zombie invasion and psychological thriller to make a film unlike anything you will have ever seen.
Seemingly a much bigger idea in terms of scope and storytelling Us is thankfully just as taught and compact as Get Out and the terrible tale gets going as quickly as possible rushing along at breakneck speed and throwing us into the unknown at the same time as the characters.
This works well as giving the audience time to stop and think may lead to them unpicking the plot which is bound to happen after the credits role however by then they will also be haunted by the many nightmarish images and scenes that the film contains. The creepy world he creates does cause questions but the imagery and ideas are amazing. At once beautiful and terrifying several of the more surreal moments are very hard to shift once they get hold.
The script is excellent and wonderfully well balanced with the performances highlighting the great character creation. Winston Duke offers some comedic relief along with Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale) and Tim Heidecker (of Tim and Eric fame) who play the families bickering friends. The two children Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex are well cast and realistic in their reactions to the insane incident that occurs around them, something that is not often the case in horror movies.
Best of all is Lupita Nyong’o who is the heart and dark soul of the movie. Playing a complex role she adheres the audience to her instantly and her journey through the terror and out the other side is transformative for her as well as us.
Jordan Peele is a powerhouse of horror and with Us he proves that he is far from a one trick pony offering a completely different sort of film from his last yet still instilling it with his distinct vision and eerie imagination.
I for one can’t wait to see what he has in store next and this time I won’t wait to watch it!