Screen Shot 2019-03-30 at 11.41.18 PMI had enormously high hopes for Us, Jordan Peele’s follow-up to 2017’s Get OutGet Out was an exclamation point in the punctuation of that year that shone a light on racism and classism and was a hugely entertaining social critique. It didn’t seem too unfair to expect something of equal heft from Peele’s sophomore effort.

Following a quick supposed lesson about the abandoned tunnel system in the United States and a brief retrospective prologue, we’re introduced to the Wilson family in a manner similar to the openings of The Shining and The Evil Dead; folk in a car driving through nice scenery. They’re on their way to Santa Cruz where the mother had had a traumatic experience in her youth. They hang out with friends at the beach, they enjoy the surroundings of their late grandmother’s home, but there’s always a feeling that something’s not quite right, something’s out of sync. And then, at night, a family of four, dressed in red, appear in their driveway and aren’t in any hurry to leave. Furthermore, they’ve each brought along a pair of bronze scissors. And then we realize, as the characters realize, that the intruders bear a striking resemblance to the poor Wilsons.

There are some great touches here that support the whole symmetry theme. It all starts to kick off around 11:11 at night. Jeremiah 11:11 is shown a couple of times. The fact that the weapon of choice is scissors is significant. Without a doubt, there is a lot to admire from a thematic and structural point of view.

As far as acting chops are concerned, it really couldn’t be better. Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke are both excellent as Adelaide and Gabe, and their kids, Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex do fantastic turns as phone-obsessed Zora and kind-of-a-weirdo Jason. The fact that these actors do a double shift and make each instance distinct just makes it more impressive.

Jordan Peele knows how to tell a story and cinematographer, Mike Gioulakis (It Follows, Glass) certainly knows how to film it. It’s worth taking a moment to emphasize this; the movie is gorgeous. It is beautifully shot. Additionally, the sound design is incredible and manages to play with your expectations to get you uneasy. It’s very cleverly done and adds to the tension.

Despite the tense nature, it isn’t without more than its fair share of laughs. Before excrement hits the ventilation, the family’s banter is cute while still being believable, but it’s the laughs that hit in the more horrendous moments that really resonate. I don’t think I’ve laughed so long — or if ever — upon hearing Luniz’s I Got 5 on It. Or, for that matter, NWA’s Fuck The Police. It’s Sting I feel sorry for.

So I must’ve loved it, right? Right? Holy shit, Gav, tell us you loved this movie. C’mon. Jeez.

Well. Kinda.

On the surface, Us is an evil doppelgänger movie and for the first act and a half, it’s effective and it’s a tight to the point of being claustrophobic home invasion flick. As the movie progresses, the focus broadens and in doing so, it robs the film of the tension.

More importantly, the reason why this is happening, and it’s explained in a couple of lengthy exposition scenes, isn’t hugely satisfying. In fact, it’s pretty stupid. Plus, it doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny, and it doesn’t feel like it’s a movie that plays by its own rules. Most damning, perhaps, there was absolutely no reason for this movie to last two hours. There were moments where I was a little bored.

Look. It’s a good movie. It’s worth checking out. But in my opinion, it’s not Peele’s masterpiece. More positively, I loved the way it dealt with gore. Mostly every horrific moment you think happened in the movie, happened in your head. That’s pretty neat. Also, it’s always refreshing when a horror movie doesn’t rely on jump scares.

Is it better than Get Out? Of course not. But it’s a very decent, creepy movie whose performances and humor just about make up for the shortcomings in the story.

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