Us

Us ★★★★½

Jordan Peele's Get Out is one of the most immaculately crafted directorial debuts of all time. It's a first-rate horror film that tackles relevant social and political issues in a manner that allows it to be both deep and entertaining. Those hoping to find the same kind of thematic timeliness here are not likely to be disappointed. They may, however, take issue with the delivery.

Peele clearly has a lot on his mind and spreads himself too thin trying to cram it all into one movie. Us is littered with so many symbolic possibilities such as classism, race, and the dual hidden nature of humanity (among so much more) that it's hard to pull any sort of cohesive message from it at all. He manages to briefly touch on each of these topics, but never manages to make them come together in a way that actually says anything.

Us may be unfocused subtext-wise, but it's only marginally less valuable because of it. The moment-to-moment action is so good that it's incredibly easy to overlook the contextual and narrative deficiencies, like how the plot twist is really just a big plot hole. To put it simply, I think Us is even more fun than Get Out.

It's hard for me to not walk away from most horror-comedies disappointed as they tend to lean too far on one extreme more often than not. Us manages to be the rare exception that acts as the perfect marriage between the two genres. Both styles come off as complimentary, never serving to pull power away from the other. The film ends up being both hilarious and freaky as a result.

It does a lot to help keep the fairly familiar home invasion/slasher action fresh, but the imaginative premise and excellent dual performance from Lupita Nyong'o that are the real heavy lifters here. In reference to the latter, I'm hearing a lot of people call her performance award worthy. I personally wouldn't go that far, but her work here is impressive. Especially as the creepy and menacing doppelganger.

Peele also makes the most of the concept by once again crafting a slew of unforgettable, unsettling, and inventive scenarios and situations. I'm not just talking about the more violent or bizarre set pieces either. The smaller, more atmospheric touches matter just as much. Like the usage of Michael Abels' score for example. The songs pop up in the most unexpected of ways. Think you'll never listen to I Got 5 on It in the same way again? Try hearing N.W.A's F*ck tha Police without getting chills after this.

Us isn't perfect and is nowhere near as focused as Get Out was. Yet, it's another standout work from a man who already proved himself to be one of the best talents in the genre after only one film. His second effort only bolsters that reputation. There's more to find fault with for sure, but that didn't stop me from walking out of that theater having had a really good time.

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