Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Movie with Abe: Us

Directed by Jordan Peele
Released March 22, 2019

In 2017, comedian and writer Jordan Peele made his directorial debut with “Get Out,” a satirical exploration of the experience of black people in a white America. The film was well-received by critics and audiences alike, classified as a comedy by the Golden Globes and termed a documentary in response by Peele. This year, he follows up his first film with another horrifying imagined world that once again asks those who watch it to consider just how much they know about the society they live in and what might happen if their comfortable existences were disrupted by a disturbing truth.

Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o) travels with her husband Gabe (Winston Duke), daughter Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph), and son Jason (Evan Alex) to their lake house in Santa Cruz. When they get home, they notice a disconcerting sight outside: a family of four standing silently in the driveway. When Gabe goes out to investigate, he comes face-to-face with himself. The Wilsons are terrorized by their doppelgangers, dressed in red and claiming to have come to take the place of their counterparts. Determined to survive, Adelaide guides her family through a treacherous night made even scarier by the stamina and vengeful nature of their attackers.

As an unenthusiastic viewer of the horror genre, I avoided seeing this film for a while and did so now because of awards buzz for star Nyong’o and the film as a whole. It bears many similarities to Peele’s first feature in its presentation of a deeply unsettling commentary on society, one that involves horror elements in its fantastical story. Jump scenes are mostly avoided in favor of considerable gore and the legitimately frightening notion of people being pursued by others who look just like them and seek only to take their place.

Nyong’o has had quite a career trajectory since she won an Oscar for her feature film debut in “12 Years a Slave” in 2013. She also appears in another quasi-horror film this year, “Little Monsters,” one that makes better use of her talents, in this reviewer’s opinion. She dives deep into the role and delivers commendably based on what is asked of her, but, despite all of the hype and positive reception, both her performance and the film in general don’t resound quite as formidably as it should. Peele knows what kind of film he is making, and while it may be effective for some, it’s not a universal slum dunk for those uninterested in this genre and style of film.


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