The Final Word:
- Jordan Peele has this great ability to throw in some immensely effective comedy amid chaos and horror.
Latin Horror’s Jennifer E. Ortega attended an advance screening for Academy Award-winning Jordan Peele‘s ‘US‘ in Los Angeles and provides her take on the second horror film by an emerging and dominating force in the genre, who is being hailed as an instant auteur and genius. And Latin Horror agrees completely with that premise and cannot wait to see more of his forthcoming work, which also includes the new Twilight Zone TV series coming April 1st on the CBS All Access streaming service.My favorite way to see a film is with as little info about it going in as possible. I’ll watch trailers, read reviews, reactions, all after, but I like knowing nothing before seeing the film. I fully understand that a lot of people enjoy knowing much more before seeing a movie and I get it. Is it a story that intrigues or bores you, is there too much or too little violence for you. Still, certain films are so much more enjoyable the less you know about them. Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ is one of those films. So I will be delighted to give you my opinion on ‘Us’ while trying my very best to reveal very little.
The Plot & A Few Words about C.H.U.D.
The film opens in 1986 to a television playing a Hands Across America ad. The television set is surrounded by VHS tapes, including a VHS of ‘C.H.U.D.’ Thank you for including ‘C.H.U.D.’ (Side note straight from my alma mater— NYU grad film chair, David Irving directed ‘C.H.U.D. II’ and was always happy to talk to students about it.) A little girl, Adelaide is watching the tv. It’s her birthday, and something very traumatizing to her happens at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.
The film cuts to the present day. Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) is now an adult with her own family. She is married to Gabe (Winston Duke who has excellent comedic timing despite being in a horror movie) and two children. An older daughter, Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) that like any teenage girl is more interested in her iPhone than her family and a younger son, Jason (Evan Alex) who is fond of magic tricks & illusions. It is their first time as a family back at the beach house since Adelaide’s mother died. Elizabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker play their friends Kitty & Josh that have a home in Santa Cruz. They are “the friends” with a bigger house, a nicer car, and brattier kids. Adelaide is not keen on going to the beach since she is still traumatized from childhood.
And yes…there’s doppelgangers. That’s all you really should know going into ‘Us.’ The thought of a doppelganger is horribly frightening in itself and have you ever seen a doppelganger with good intentions in a film? So really that is all you need to know plot-wise.
Commentary & How I Will Never go to Santa Cruz Again
The film is terrifying and definitely has roots in some great horror concepts. Like ‘Get Out,’ I love that Jordan Peele has this great ability to throw in some immensely effective comedy amid chaos and horror. The comedy is natural. It never seems forced. That’s a skill very few filmmakers possess at least effectively possess. The acting is superb across the board. Lupita Nyong’o is beyond great. Honestly, not a weak performance in the bunch. Shahadi Wright Joseph blew me away. There are so many great little moments in the film, including one with Elizabeth Moss applying lip gloss that to me, is one of her strongest moments as an actor.
Again Jordan Peele elevates the medium of film to give great and much-needed commentary. To me, the analysis would be that we are our own worst enemies. We are a country that can self destruct because of us. In this amazing country we live in, it is so disheartening to see so many Americans demonize “the other,” anyone not deemed one of them. “The other” is habitually portrayed as the ultimate “enemy” of America whether “the other” is an illegal immigrant, a non-Chrisitan, someone who is not heterosexual or just the wrong color. These are the “enemies”. Anyone with half a heart and half a brain knows what a fallacy this is, yet it is a fallacy that is repeatedly regurgitated. “Us” reminds America that our biggest enemy is ourselves. We are our own worst enemy. Also, I am in no rush to go to Santa Cruz maybe ever again after watching ‘Us’.
A family’s serenity turns to chaos when a group of doppelgängers begins to terrorize them.
Directed by: Jordan Peele
Produced by: Jason Blum, Ian Cooper, Sean McKittrick & Jordan Peele
Written by: Jordan Peele
Starring: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker
Music by: Michael Abels
Cinematography: Mike Gioulakis
Edited by: Nicholas Monsour
Production Companies: Blumhouse Productions, QC Entertainment, Monkeypaw Productions
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Release date: March 22, 2019 (United States)
Running time: 116 minutes
Rated: R for violence & terror