As I’m writing this review, Us, the latest horror movie by comedy performer turned visionary director, Jordan Peele, just tracked as the second largest opening of an original film, earning a whopping $71M at the box office over its first weekend in theaters. This is leaps and bounds more than Get Out made in its opening weekend back in 2017.
So, a congrats to everyone involved is in order.
Now let’s talk about what worked and what didn’t work about this movie.
Us is a crowd pleaser. The movie is filled with fun cat and mouse games, an entertaining use of familiar talent in unfamiliar roles, and genuinely stylish directing. Lupita Nyong’o does a fantastic job as the lead, while Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex Elisabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker round out the cast with solid performances that mix comedy and dramatic pressure together perfectly.
It’s fun, the premise is unique without straying too far from its chosen genre, there is a nice balance between humor and horror, and an interesting layer of subtle allegory. Similar to Get Out, a viewer could potentially read into the subtext of the premise and extract themes about racial identity tensions in America. If you want to go down that mental rabbit hole, start by reading this speech (link) and then watch (or re-watch) the movie.
What Didn't Work
In horror, the cardinal rule (if you want to keep things scary) is to obscure your villain(s). Once the audience gets a good look at the source of danger, their imaginations stop running around in a panic and things get less scary. Us wasn’t without its fun jump scares, but the sense of dread was diminished pretty early after we got a good look at the assailants.
Act 3 was also a bit of an exposition dump with lengthy dialogue exchanges about the true nature of the assailants.
Sometimes, less is more. This film could have done with a little less.
Verdict: Pretty Dope, Not as Scary as I Hoped