“[Winston] Duke’s darkly comical turn, when permitted to do so, adds some much needed levity and respite to this film’s otherwise dogged determination to take itself way too seriously.” – Wayward Wolf.
US, is a tale of them and us. A U.S tale of racial and minority hardships and divisions all dressed up in the guise of a horror flick.
And what a muddled unsatisfying affair it is, to put it mildly.
Developing an understanding of Peele’s narrative and appreciating the motives and influences that led him down such a path would seem to be the primary challenge here. That, however, is easier said than done. Even having had the benefit of a post-screening narrative ‘walk-through’, I’m still left baffled and unsatisfied by the film’s unconvincing conclusions.
Part fiendishly complicated thriller, part multi-influenced horror and part social commentary, Us is a film that comes at us with a multi-pronged assault on our senses. Such an assault, I’d argue however, succeeds only in confusing and bewildering the audience, distracting considerably in the process from what must surely be the film’s primary intention – to shock and scare.
Whilst the world seems intent on over-analysing the minutiae of Peele’s oh-so-clever convoluted plot intentions, one overarching fact remains true: though the initial appearance of the creepy motionless silhouetted figures on Gabe and Adelaide’s drive hinted that it might well be, Us, is in fact simply not very scary at all. And any amount of blurring this issue with unnecessarily complicated plot devices and deeper meanings isn’t going to disguise this fact.
Lupita Nyong’o, Evan Alex and Shahadi Wright Joseph (Adelaide/Red, Jason/Pluto and Zora/Umbrae, respectively), all make a decent enough fist of portraying three of the perpetually fear-faced family, but it’s Winston Duke’s portrayal of Gabe that arguably hints at where Peele’s directorial attentions might have been better placed. Duke’s darkly comical turn, when permitted to do so, adds some much needed levity and respite to this film’s otherwise dogged determination to take itself way too seriously.
Neither particularly scary nor funny, Us ultimately relies on its ‘cleverness’ to blind its viewers as it weaves its way confusingly hither and thither, tying itself up in knots in the process before ultimately vanishing clean up its own over important arse.
Visually impressive at times, and rich in both metaphor and symbolism, there’s no argument that Jordan Peele’s grand vision for Us is an ambitious and intricate one on paper, but the inconvenient truth here is that very little of this translates effectively enough to the big screen.
Considering the wealth of acclaim being bestowed upon Jordan Peele’s new horror, my views are clearly in the minority here. And that’s fair enough. I just pray that US is not set to haunt me and become my new Big Lebowski; a film, no matter how many times I reluctantly put myself through it, never fails to not live up to the hype that surrounds it.
US: A worthy follow up to the excellent Get Out, sadly, this is not.