In 2017, one of my favorite horror films took center stage as the brainchild of new screenwriter and director, Jordan Peele. Its name was "Get Out."
A brilliant social horror that centered around commentary about racism and the using of African-Americans as props, "Get Out" was insanely popular among all audiences and even won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
Well, Peele is bringing a new project to the table that is just as complex and top-level weird as "Get Out."
Peele's new film "Us" stars Lupita Nyong'o as Adelaide, the main protagonist of the film. She is absolutely fantastic in this role, giving probably her best performance to date. As Christ Stuckmann said, Nyong'o's performance is so good that it will be ignored by the Academy Awards. Why do I say that? Because Toni Collette was so amazing in "Hereditary" last summer but didn't even sniff a nomination for the masterful, shocking, internalizing performance she gave. It really is a shame.
I also particularly enjoyed one of the lesser name actors, Winston Duke as Gabe. He's mostly there for comic relief, but I really do like his portrayal. In fact, I see some of Jordan Peele in his character and wonder if that was part of Peele's directing.
But, what I really was excited to see was another entry in the social, creative horror subgenre. I get so tired of seeing the franchises like "The Purge," "The Conjuring," and "Oujia" funneling out numerous mindless sequels that water down the entire genre. Whenever I see a horror movie like "Us," "Get Out," or "Hereditary" that actually dares to challenge the viewer and not just use loud noises to scare the audience, I feel it's a serious step in the right direction for horror. If Peele and others can keep churning out excellent "think about it" horrors, then the genre as a whole will improve immensely, and leave franchise cash cows in the dust
With that being said, the narrative is just excellent and comes with a twist I definitely didn't see coming. I'll need some time to truly digest the themes and symbolism (there's a ton), but I'll tell you that you could break down just about everything in this film. It's definitely much more challenging than "Get Out," but I'm not sure if it's as concisely and coherently written. Don't get me wrong, it's great, I just had a hard time following some of the fast-moving plot revelations.
The score done by Michael Abels is also incredibly well done and will be underrated just like "Get Out's." This one really ratchets up the intensity and suspense and I have great respect for that.
All in all, "Us" is a solid film that I think is still one of the best horrors to debut in the last 20 years. While I think it probably isn't good enough to receive a Best Picture nomination, I feel it's certainly good enough to be remembered as one of the best films of the year. It might grab a screenplay nomination but that's really all we can expect in terms of awards. However, you should have no qualms about selecting "Us" upon your next theater visit.