I came away from ‘Us’ with a number of very different feelings. It kept me seriously on edge for the majority of it, making me feel uncomfortable and at times confused. It’s taken me a while to try and digest it all and to decide whether or not I actually even enjoyed it. The movie managed to get under my skin and the tension it evoked, the nightmare scenario that plays on your mind afterwards, well I just love all of that! So, did I enjoy it? Would I watch it again? Absolutely!
It’s difficult to discuss the plot of Us without heading into spoiler territory, so I’ll briefly recap what you’ll already have seen in the trailer for it, along with a few other plot points which hopefully don’t give too much away. We kick things off in Santa Cruz, 1986. A young girl, Adelaide, is at the fair with her parents one evening when she decides to meander off on her own, heading down the boardwalk and onto the beach. While there, she experiences a terrifying and life changing experience, which clearly has had a lasting impact on her when we rejoin her again as an adult in present day (now played by Lupita Nyong’O). She has a family of own – husband Gabe (Winston Duke) and two children Zora and Jason – and the movie spends a lot of time upfront introducing us to their family dynamic as they head out on vacation to Santa Cruz, a place which obviously stirs up some strong feelings within Adelaide.
One evening, as the family are preparing to go to bed, they spot four silhouettes out on the driveway. And when those silhouettes force their way into their home, the family realise that the four red-dungaree wearing, scissor-wielding people are actually their doppelgängers – ‘Us…’. At this point, the movie seriously switches up a gear, becoming an intense home invasion horror as each family member tries to evade or battle their alternate self. It’s clearly a very weird and unsettling scenario, and things soon get a hell of a lot weirder! It’s very late in the movie before we get any kind of explanation as to exactly what’s going on, which only adds to the tension and confusion. There’s also a lot of humour throughout the movie, which kind of acts against it at times, particularly during the oddball moments when it’s unclear whether something is actually meant to be funny or not.
The cast are all fantastic, and if you’ve seen any other reviews of ‘Us’, you’ll probably have seen them focusing their praise on Lupita Nyong’O. I wholeheartedly agree with that – the other version of her, called Red, is seriously creepy. Zombie-like and with a chillingly hoarse, rasping voice. Add to that a great musical score, and a last minute twist that I really enjoyed, and overall I really liked this movie. There are clearly many themes that are open to interpretation – lots of layers and metaphors that I may pick up on with repeat viewings (and it definitely warrants repeat viewings). Or they may continue to go straight over my head, as they did on this occasion! It’s a bold film though, although not quite as enjoyable for me as Get Out, the first movie from writer/director/producer Jordan Peele (and also my favourite movie of 2017). The feelings that this invoked, and the way that it lingered in my head, made it a very impressive and interesting experience all the same.