Review – Us (2019)
Directed by: Jordan Peele
Written by: Jordan Peele
Produced by: Jordan Peele & Jason Blum
Release Date: March 22nd 2019 (UK)
I re-watched Us last night for review and I really enjoyed getting to revisit it. Us is directed by comedian turned horror auteur Jordan Peele and after how much I loved Get Out, I was very much looking forward to seeing this when it first released. I do think that if Us had came before Get Out, I probably would have enjoyed it more, as for every element that I enjoyed in Us, I couldn’t help but keep thinking that it had already been done better in Get Out.
One of the main differences between the two films though, is just how quickly things go South. In Get Out, the first 3 quarters of the movie were all build up before things eventually got nuts in the last 30 minutes, whereas in Us we are only just at the end of the first act when crazy antics start to go down.
I get why Peele did this from a film-making perspective. In Get Out, we didn’t really know what we were in for and he had the benefit of keeping us in the dark for as long as he wanted to, whereas in Us we all went in expecting bizarre things to take place. So ,rather than messing about for too long building tension, Peele lets things get weird fairly early in the film. Whether you prefer the slower burn of Get Out like I did, or the faster pace in Us will be down to personal preference.
The worst thing about Us is that it is following Get Out. Even when something really cool happens, it was done better in Get Out. Take the score for example; it is pretty great in Us, but was superior in Get Out. The same goes for the editing, the script, the cinematography and a whole load of other technical elements. One thing that did stand out was the fantastic use of lighting. It was perfect in every scene throughout the film and conveyed the feelings that Peele was subjecting the audience to flawlessly.
The performances were also great. The whole cast did a fantastic job, (including the kids,) but the stand outs for me were Lupita Nyong’o and Elisabeth Moss. They were pretty good as the normal versions of their characters, but they really shone when they got to play the psychotic doppelgangers, for way more reasons than just how scary they were.
Another thing about the film that I appreciated was that for the most part it doesn’t treat you like you are dumb, with one blatant exception. The film opens on a shot of an old CRT TV showing various adverts. One of these is an advert for Santa Cruz tourism and another tells us that the year is 1986. In the very next shot we are shown a title card reading, “Santa Cruz, 1986.” This isn’t an outrageous inclusion, just one that causes an eye-roll for anyone actually paying attention to what they are seeing onscreen.
Another thing that didn’t quite work for me was the use of comedy. Where Get Out used comedy to cut away from the intensity and give the audience a breather, Us intertwined it more with the carnage, which made it come off as fairly messy in parts. Don’t get me wrong, the film’s comedic dialogue is well written and well delivered, I just feel that it could have been implemented a bit better.
Overall, Us is another great horror/thriller from Jordan Peele. I know that I compared it to Get Out all the way through this review, but even when watching it, it is extremely hard not to make comparisons. That does not mean that this is a bad movie by any stretch though and I am very much looking forward to seeing whatever Peele’s next project happens to be.
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