“Have you ever danced with the Devil in the pale moonlight?”
Jordan Peele exceeded audiences’ expectations with 2017’s Get Out. After the five-season run of the hit sketch series, Key and Peele, he made a directorial debut that perfectly balanced humor and thrills. Due to winning his first Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, he digged deep with the allegory of the Black Lives Matter movement that has been discussed since its theatrical release. As the host of the upcoming Twilight Zone reboot, it’s no surprise he’s going to become the next Alfred Hitchcock. His filmmaking skills show in his slightly superior sophomore film Us, an allegory of killing the American Dream.
Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o) spends vacation at her childhood beach house outside Santa Cruz with her husband Gabe (Wilson Duke) and her children, Jason (Evan Alex) and Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph). Although stricken with fear and anxiety after a creepy incident on the boardwalk when she was a child (in the film’s spine-tingling opening sequences), she and Gabe befriend a wealthier couple–John (Tim Heidecker) and Kitty Tyler (Elisabeth Moss). Maybe she will have a fun, peaceful time after all. One night, Adelaide’s past begins to haunt her when a family ends up in their driveway. It reveals they are their doppelgangers in nastier appearances. All hell begins to break loose.
Nyong’o leads a great ensemble as the overbearing mother whose horrifying dreams would soon come a reality. The audience emphasizes with her as she attempts to keep her family safe during this horrible event. Her interactions between her husband and the kids does generate some good laughs and is never a dull moment.
The core theme of Us involves the biggest evil of all is ourselves. However, In an interview with IndieWire, Peele decided to dig deep with his own interpretation. “I was stricken by the fact we are in a time where we fear the other,” he said. “Whether it is the mysterious invader that we think is going to come and kill us, take our jobs, or the faction that we don’t live near that voted a different way than us. We’re all about pointing the finger and I wanted to suggest that maybe the monster we really need to look at has our face. Maybe the evil is us.”
Peele’s writing and direction is wonderful. The suspense is not shaky and the humor is never shied away. Kudos to Mike Gioulakis’ unnerving cinematography, the atmosphere in this is guaranteed to generate chills and gasps. There is also something so subtle it would require plenty of rewatches to catch what everyone didn’t catch up on before–from the images of Jeremiah 11:11 to the rabbits roaming around in the underground hallway. One of the obvious influences is Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, which both have a similar tone. Like the timeless horror movie classic, Us will be discussed about for many years to come. I’ll never listen to The Beach Boys the same way again.