Us ★★½

I have a soft spot for doppelgangers, especially in horror films. When they show up as a family unit in Us, Jordan Peele drops quite the psychological proposition of hunt or be hunted. Unfortunately, the existential qualities of the trope fall wayside in service of a typical, predictable, and silly second half. Ultimately, the film’s biggest payoff is self-criticized when another character comments that something looks like some dumb performance art piece. Get Out had something to say about race—in the influenced body of a genre film indebted to many other films of its kind. Us is a genre film with something to say that’s already been said by its many influences and much better. And really, what it has to say isn’t so much reflected in how it says it particularly well. When the film’s invasive soundtrack isn’t attempting to point out the stingers to use in its prestige trailer, sometimes Peele finds an image to hang his characters onto but never establishes a particular rhythm or style. All of it is let down at the script level. The mystique and revelations about the doppelgängers are both too literal to form any sense of realism or logic, especially on the scale of where the film wants to go. Once that goes out the window, my interest in the characters diminished. I know Peele wouldn't have the nerve to place his characters in any true sense of danger, almost as if they are protected by their own comic relief, so my unease drained quickly. Not only that, it follows through with plot machinations and reveals as if they weren’t so obvious or predictable, when they are. It’s a let down that Peele didn’t seem to challenge himself, much like the rest of the recent genre outings, not like he has much reason to considering this film will do well and he’s already earned his Oscar. His attempt at carving his own way through the horror canon is admirable--he just needs to cut a bit deeper.

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