Us (2019)

I was very looking forward to seeing Us —you can say it was one of my most anticipated films of 2019— and the very positive ratings I kept seeing on my Letterboxd homepage —I avoided reviews because of spoilers— only made me even more hyped about it. And because of it, a part of me was afraid Peele's latest film would let me down. Thankfully, it did not. It still has many flaws but I loved it nevertheless.

The film follows Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong'O) who, accompanied by her husband, Gabe (Winston Duke), and two kids, Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex), returns to the beachfront home where she grew up. It's not easy to be there for her as it brings back memories of her childhood, specifically of the traumatic incident she experienced when she wandered away from her parents and entered a funhouse on the beach. While trying to relax and have fun with her family, Adelaide can't quite shake off the feeling that something bad is going to happen. Her worst fear becomes a reality when four masked individuals break into her house in the middle of the night.

Story-wise, Us didn't really convince me. While I loved the idea, its execution is pretty flawed and, as a result, the story feels disjointed, and has its fair amount of plot holes which only raises more questions than it cares to answer —since everyone has doppelgängers living in tunnels right beneath them, what would happen if a person simply moved or went of vacation outside of the US? In other words, it doesn't make a lot of sense. Despite this, I still found it to be engaging and very interesting, and the twist, which leaves you with even more questions —I liked the fact that Peele didn't bother to answer these though—, managed to surprise me despite the fact that there were all the signs pointing that way all along and that, at some point, I thought that twist would eventually come.

It doesn't really matter though how flawed it is because it's not the plot itself that stands out, but the themes and meaning "hidden" in it. Us is indeed a commentary about classism and social privilege, about oppression and marginalisation, about unjust suffering and unearned privilege. It is about the United States and their xenophobia as it felt to me that the ultimate meaning of Us is that Americans see outsiders —and foreigners— as a threat as if their ultimate goal was to take over and take away what's always been theirs. It's a film that forces us to reconsider who the real monsters are.

Universal Pictures
The film's greatest strength, however, is Lupita Nyong'o dual performance as Adelaide and Red. While both characters don't really go beyond the typical horror heroine and the typical horror villain, her performances bring so much dimension and depth to both. It's in the role of Red that Nyong'o is at her best though as she gives an intense, truly terrifying performance made of uncanny movements and raspy voice. As for the supporting cast, Winston Duke does well as Adelaide's chilled-out husband and works as comic relief, Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex both give good performances as the kids, and Elisabeth Moss, who is barely in the film, is phenomenal as the Wilsons friend, Kitty.

As for the horror, Us successfully delivers it. While very little violence happens up close, the film is quite terrifying —there is nothing that will make you jump out of your seat, but there are plenty of moments of terror. The cinematography really helps in that —not only it's stunning, but it gives that eerie feeling that someone or something is always watching. In addition, the Tethered costumes are great as they are simple and yet beautiful and terrifying, and the score and songs are used incredibly well. There's also plenty of pop culture references and easter eggs, my favourite being the A Clockwork Orange style murder scene —the inappropriate song playing when the Tethered kills Kitty— and the visual parallel to Get Out —Zora flinging Umbrae off the car into the woods, which results in Adelaide going to see her die, and Chris getting out of the car after hitting the deer and going into the woods to see it die.


  1. thank you for well written review...

  2. Great review! Even if the story had issues, I can't wait to see what Peele does next.

  3. Oh nice catch with that Get out similarity! The plot holes kinda ruined it for me but it was still a good movie

    1. I hate when that happens. I didn't really care about the holes in this one because overall I really, really enjoyed the film and can't wait to rewatch it.