Us Review: How Jordan Peele Avoided The Sophomore Slump

Jordan Peele has found a highly unexpected second wind in his career. After making millions laugh on Key & Peele, he has found equal success in the horror genre of all places. His psychological thriller/social satire Get Out was universally beloved, earning him an Oscar win for Best Original Screenplay. And of course, winning an Oscar guarantees endless creative freedom. Critics and audiences alike were left wondering what Peele would do next. Could he possibly top himself? I’m proud to report that yes, he did. Us isn’t going to be as mainstream as Get Out, as this is a very strange and ambitious film that won’t appeal to all audiences. But as far as I’m concerned, Us is an even stronger film, that will find a devoted cult fanbase for years to come. Much like Get Out, this is an impeccably crafted film. The acting is fantastic, especially from Lupita Nyong’o, who gives a tour de force showing on par with Toni Collette in Hereditary and Essie Davis in The Babadook. It’s the type of performance that proves that genre films have incredible artistic merit, even when the Academy inevitably ignores them. The production design and score are also A-game, giving beautiful yet eerie aesthetics.
One major difference between the two films is the tone. Get Out was infamously nominated for “Best Comedy” at the Golden Globes, but that description isn’t too far off. That film has plenty of hilarious moments, and even when it’s not necessarily funny, there is clever satire that can be considered comedic. Us, on the other hand, is a horror film through and through and is the scariest movie to come out since Hereditary. Every sequence feels like something out of a nightmare; visuals that are inexplicable, bizarre and terrifying. Even the opening credits, a long take of rabbits in cages, is genuinely unnerving. The film is also perfectly paced, keeping the tension constant from start to finish. Another difference is the meaning, which cannot be more different. Everyone understands what Get Out is about, the facade of white liberalism. There is no debate, the film cannot be interpreted in any other way. However, nobody knows for sure what Us is supposed to be about. Some possible candidates include colonialism, xenophobia, poverty, and government corruption, but there’s no unanimous consensus. Much like a David Lynch film, the meaning ultimately lies within the viewer. All in all, Us is another fantastic feature from Jordan Peele and is easily the frontrunner for the best horror film of 2019. Us is playing in theaters now.

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