Us ★★★

Certainly demonstrates (in case we didn’t already know) that Peele is an incredible directing talent with a unique vision and an irresistible energy. Technically, this film fires on all cylinders. The performances land a great mix of humor, intensity, and creepiness. The score is a stunner and ensures that even if the story has trouble resonating, the visceral experience remains steadfast. Many scenes are thoroughly effective at building tension, and there’s a chaotic energy to it that works.

Now for the other side. It’s obviously going to be par for the course to compare everything Peele does with his debut, as that’s what happens when you set expectations so high. Here’s the thing: it almost comes across like Peele is comparing himself to Get Out here. Everything needs to be bigger, badder, more complex and weighty. There needs to be a thunderous concluding twist. The violence needs to be nonstop. All of that works against the script at many points. I don’t fault Peele for setting his ambitions for the moon, but he stretches his cool concept so thin too early that the third act just runs out of steam in the search of catharsis. The scope of the universe gets bigger just for the sake of it, the concept is undermined, the violence gets emptier, the central character arc stumbles, and the thematic screenwriting circles continue to spin with no end. I applaud the film for not wanting to be a generic horror thriller, but it’s stronger when it strays further in the direction of being a generic horror thriller.

Overall, it’s still enjoyable as an experience and is worth a watch, but the third act is a major roadblock to this film being great. All setup, no payoff.


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