“Beware of no man more than of yourself; we carry our worst enemies within Us.” -Charles Spurgeon
At its surface, Us is a home invasion thriller gone awry. But begin to peel(e) away the outer layers and suddenly you are presented with a horror of both epicness in scale and impact and as intimate as a conversation inside your own head. Us is an amalgamation of finding the evil within ourselves and identifying how to defeat that which holds back our humanity; that which creates the evil is a life all its own if left unchecked. This is a story of what happens when the unchecked decide to unleash an uprising.
Us creates a ‘What if’ scenario of what would it look like if the homeless of America were in actuality a failed experiment left to fend for themselves. It begs the question of which would have been more humane; to exterminate the experiment or the option of leaving it all to rot beneath the surface? Ideally it never should have happened in the first place, that’s why hell hath no fury like a failed experiment scorned.
It pleases me to say that the dreaded sophomore slump was avoided by Jordan Peele after his stellar directorial debut with Get Out. Much like Get Out, Us has a superficial focus with so many underlying messages of looking at oneself, in all our shortcomings and missteps. To always think of oneself as the hero in their own story is to prevent any kind of growth toward a better world. This concept is especially topical in the face of America’s seemingly growing xenophobia toward people of foreign countries and in the case of homeless people, the less fortunate of our own country. Although Us is an extreme and impossible scenario, its message of disregard or altogether hatred of those we simply don’t understand is still as relevant and poignant as it could be had a more realistic approach been taken to the story of Us.
As the finale shocks and awes it carries along with it the overall message of what Us had been saying the entire runtime; we do not always know those who inhabit our lives, even those closest to us. We all have a side that most, if any, humans have never seen. To some, the thought of that part getting out, to run amok in the brightness of day is absolutely unimaginable. It begs the question of do we really know our loved ones, the ones we trust with our lives, the ones we share homes and beds with, can they truly be trusted? Unfortunately, Us poses the questions but overall leaves the answer up to us, creating a leftover feeling of unease as you drive home.
A major part of what makes Us so terrifying is the number of questions left without answers. The mystery of things left unsaid helps lend to the horror of it all. To not understand is to fear, which is yet another theme so prominent throughout the film.
Inspired in part by the charity campaign Hands Across America, Us imagines a scenario where people literally come together to see the change they want to see and to physically hold hands creating an unforgettable image and statement that the forgotten will no longer remain so, even if that means the end of those that oppose.
To ignore the symbolism of Us is to miss the point entirely. The symbolism is in the words the characters speak, the supposed happenstance of constant and repeated moments of mirror imagery and symmetry. This brings about the one of the most prominent symbols of the entire film, the numbers 11:11. At its most basic, the imagery of 11:11 is a mirror image of itself but it also refers to so much more, particularly a verse of imminent doom professed in the pages of the Bible.
Us is a powerful horror film replete with themes such as jealousy, xenophobia, revenge, and betrayal and that’s only the beginning. Complete with performances that balance on the edge between brilliance and hilariously awful, every actor delivers something memorable on both sides of who their characters truly are, despite the efforts of trying to ignore that which makes us fallible and imperfect in all of the darkest ways imaginable. Lupita Nyong’o is a particular highlight of the film delivering a performance of terroristic duality that clashes in moments of true horror brilliance. Winston Duke has the task of being the comedic break between moments of terror only to flip that performance to one of unpredictable rage and fury and does so with absolute conviction. I could proclaim the mastery of everyone’s performances but that would take too long for there is truly not a weak link among the them. Us is an absolute blast that fulfills the criteria of a horror film but colors outside the lines creating an unexpected story with something important to say. It’s violent, unimaginably unforgiving and overall further proof that we have a new horror auteur with Jordan Peele.
Therefore thus says the LORD, “Behold I am bringing disaster on them which they will not be able to escape; though they will cry to Me, yet I will not listen to them.”
Rated R For: violence/terror, and language
Runtime: 116 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Starring: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, Evan Alex, Shahadi Wright Joseph
Directed By: Jordan Peele
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 5/ Acting: 5/ Directing: 5/ Visuals: 5
OVERALL: 5 Nerdskulls
Buy to Own: Yes
Check out the trailer below:
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