Jordan Peele, the Oscar-winning director of horror smash hit Get Out, has returned with his second film Us. The psychological thriller hits cinemas across the country this weekend. Expect nightmares quickly to follow.
The movie, written and directed by Peele, follows a family of four – the Wilsons – on a lakeside holiday in California. However, things – as in his previous film – take a very quick turn for the sinister worse.
Rather than enjoying a relaxing vacation by the seaside, the family is confronted by their terrifying doppelgangers – boiler-suited versions of themselves that attack them at their holiday home.
The film stars Academy Award Winner Lupita Nyong’o 12 Years a Slave) and Winston Duke (Black Panther) as the mother and father Adelaide and Gabe Wilson, as well as their evil alter egos “Red” and “Abraham”. Shahadi Wright plays daughter Zora and her haunting look-a-like “Joseph”, and the son, Jason, is played by Evan Alex.
Us, Peele’s follow up movie to the critically acclaimed Get Out, addresses many of the same social themes, particularly the anxiety of African-American life. And the film is filled with references, motifs and easter eggs that allude to this anxiety. Even the trailer is jam-packed with them.
The title itself is a nod to the politically divided U.S. (United States) and this is a movie which certainly has something to say about American life. The name also implies an “us-and-them” attitude that is fostering in America, and elsewhere, whether it is being drawn across racial or political lines.
Division is certainly a major theme of the film, but it is not necessarily a division between “us-and-them”. As the trailer states “we are our own worst enemy”. It is clear Peele is arguing that internal division is perhaps just as damaging and destructive as social division, as we are constantly at battle with versions of ourselves.
Horror movies are increasingly becoming the genre of choice for filmmakers who have something to say about modern society. Get Out is a prime example, but the list also includes recent films such as The Babadook, It Follows and A Quiet Place.
The movie contains great performances, especially from Nyong’o, who’s other self is convincingly unnerving. And, although Us may not quite reach the same level as Get Out, it delivers an intelligent story, with enough twists, turns and scares that will keep us on the edge of our seat.