Us ★★★

Well... Jordan Peele definitely loves The Twilight Zone, that’s for damn sure. In fact, as of this writing he’s slated to be the host of an upcoming revival. Well... Here you go. Here’s the pilot episode.

This is more straight up horror than Get Out. So, in that sense, it provides more genuine scares and a constantly unsettling sense of dread. They also don’t skimp on the sociopolitical element, though in this case it’s more esoteric and freeform. 

I have to say the basic concept of one’s id wanting to take over is an intriguing one. Or, at least, that’s my takeaway. I’m sure there are other reads for this thing that could be just as valid. Because this is not as straightforward as Get Out and more open to interpretation. And I can appreciate that. I can definitely appreciate magic realism being applied to thought-provoking horror. And this film has some startling imagery and interesting symbolism and visual cues... Some of that symbolism is a little on-the-nose, such as the use of rabbits. But all of it is very well shot. It’s an aesthetically beautiful film.

And then we run into a couple of problems...

Mainly: it’s a film of big intellectual concepts that also wants to be a roller coaster. And that’s fine, you can do that. But when you do, it’s best to leave the ideas buried. This film, though generally effective in a purely visceral sense, would’ve been better served with more ambiguity. Once its fantastical magic realism is laid bare for the audience, they then feel the need to explain detail...and it still doesn’t actually make sense. Because it’s not supposed to. That’s just it. There’s a reason David Lynch doesn’t actually explain the meaning of Mulholland Drive.

Something else: in Get Out, the caricature of the white upper middle class worked because it was central to the point of the film. But you run the risk of losing credibility if you always portray your white people as caricatures. It’s okay. I get it. But in this film’s ruthless, apocalyptic reality, the goofy humor feels forced. It doesn’t work. Would’ve been better to play everything straight. Everything. If you cast Elizabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker as the white neighbors, then have them play those people straight. Not like characters in a Tim and Eric skit. You see what I’m saying?

In any case, when this works, it really works. And I suppose that’s what matters. Even the best horror movies aren’t always the satisfying sum of good parts. And this is one of those. It has a lot of good parts. It even has a pretty great ending.

And, if nothing else, Lupita Nyong’o will haunt your dreams for a couple of weeks at least. She’s amazing here. It really is a commanding lead performance.

She’s the best of the film’s good parts.

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