Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ is brilliant enough to earn him a second Oscar

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Jordan Peele’s 2017 movie “Get Out” proved to be an electrifying introduction into the horror film making genre for Jordan Peele. The film took home the Oscar for “Best Original Screenplay” and three other nominations. As it turns out, Peele’s Oscar-winning directorial debut was no fluke. The former “Key and Peele” co-star has recently come out with “Us,” a horror film that follows a family being confronted by their doppelgangers. “Us” has not only allowed Peele to live up to the tremendous success of his filmmaking debut, but it raised the bar once again.

“Us” stars Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke, well-known for their roles in Black Panther (2018). The duo plays Adalaide and Gabe Wilson, a young couple who are traveling with their children Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex) on a family vacation. Adalaide, who experienced a traumatic event as a child, becomes paranoid that her family is being hunted down. Her premonitions are correct, as moments later a family of scissor-wielding doppelgangers are attempting a home invasion. Each family member is forced to outmatch their lookalike in order to stay alive.

One of the most creative aspects of this plot is the duality. There is a reason Peele worked in the number 11 dozens of time throughout the film, including a few references to the bible verse Jeremiah 11:11, which foreshadows an imminent attack. Each actor is given the tough task of playing two separate roles; one as a member of a normal upper middle-class family, and the other as a horrifying and unpleasant copy. This, of course, is a brilliant metaphor of class in America. While the Wilsons are leading a comfortable and happy life, their doppelgangers are living a life of pain and misery, illustrating the fact that the poor and the rich are one and the same, separated only by circumstance.

The sensational acting is another highlight of “Us.” Duke does an outstanding job at playing a dorky father who just wants to impress his wife and kids. He masterfully delivers comedic punch lines that deflect and defuse the building tension. Nyong’o also provides an award-worthy performance as her roles of Adalaide and her doppelganger, “Red.” The raspy voice and confident posture used for “Red” is the polar opposite of the smooth and nervous demeanor of Adalaide. Nyong’o does a sensational job switching between these two characters despite their differences.

“Us” is jam-packed with references and hidden meanings. These references include famous horror movies like “Jaws” and “The Shining,” as well as various cultural references like “Hands Across America” and “Thriller.” An amazing aspect of Peele’s movies is that there is meaning behind so many little details, from the Howard sweatshirt that Gabe is wearing to the scissors the doppelgangers are carrying. The beauty behind Peele’s style is that a viewer will be able to re-watch the movie several times and still catch something new.

“Us” concludes with a twist that will completely alter your perspective of the first hour and 45 minutes of the movie. The twist, the references and the hidden meanings all work together to create an extremely dense film; the type of film that makes you go home and spend hours researching the meaning of it all. Peele is exceptional at opening a dialogue between viewers. His writing style is a clever combination between comedy, horror and cultural commentary. “Us” cements Peele as one of the most talented directors in the film-making industry today.

Rating: 4.5/5


Matt Souvigney is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at matthew.souvigney@uconn.edu.

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