Lupita Nyong'o in a scene from the movie Us.
Lupita Nyong'o in a scene from the movie Us. Claudette Barius

MOVIE REVIEW: Jordan Peele’s Us has double the frights

Us (MA15+)

Three and a half stars

Director Jordan Peele

Starring Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss

Running time 116 minutes

Verdict A real scream

 

Where there's an Us, there's a them.

Director Jordan Peele's supernatural version of the Other is uncomfortably close to the bone in his hotly anticipated follow-up to 2017 horror hit Get Out.

Materially, emotionally and sensorily deprived, there's a monstrous doppelganger for each and every one of us.

And when this underworld underclass is liberated, by forces yet to be revealed, all hell breaks loose.

The horror begins when Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong'o) returns with her husband (Winston Duke) and their two offspring to the home where she grew up.

Haunted by a traumatic childhood experience in a malevolent, beachside House of Mirrors - masterfully realised by Peele - Wilson is sure something bad is about to happen.

And it doesn't take long for those fears to be realised.

Winston Duke and Lupita Nyong’o in a scene from Us. .
Winston Duke and Lupita Nyong’o in a scene from Us. .

After a daytrip to the beach - to meet Elisabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker's God-awful, middle-class white family - Wilson's family gets a visit, around dusk, by their deviant doubles.

Only the blank-faced matriarch is capable of speech, a raw, guttural rasp that sounds as if her vocal chords are stiff and rarely used.

Before she exacts her revenge, the monster-mother paints a harrowing picture of a hellish, "Tethered" mirror existence without choice, agency or natural light.

Her zombie-like husband is a lumbering, grunting oaf.

Their children are demonic versions of Wilson's.

The Tethered daughter (Shahadi Wright Joseph) is preternaturally fast.

The disfigured, doglike son (Evan Alex) is fascinated by fire.

Even Alex in a scene from Us.
Even Alex in a scene from Us.

After escaping to the house of their filthy rich friends - and surviving an encounter with t evil, cartwheel-spinning twin sisters - the Wilsons learn that their doppelgangers are far from an isolated phenomenon.

And so begins their desperate, bloody, primal battle for survival - only son Jason (Alex) has any empathy for these misbegotten creatures.

Clearly, Peele's fiendishly creative, genre-redefining directorial debut was no aberration.

His sophomore project is a more straight-up horror outing, directed with Hitchcockian precision.

Shahadi Wright Joseph in Us.
Shahadi Wright Joseph in Us.

And it comes with a neck-dislocating twist that would do The Exorcist proud.

By telling his story from the perspective of a middle class African American family, Peele expands discussions about race, privilege and oppression exponentially.

Film students and cultural theorists will be unpicking Us's underlying subtext for years.

Nyong'o's dual performance is nothing short of mesmerising. And she is well supported by Moss's self-involved rich bitch.

Sensationally spooky.

Us opens on Thursday.


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