‘Us’: Doppelgangers banging down doors in the dead hours
‘Get Out’ director Jordan Peele’s latest movie is a clever horror cocktail of social commentary and terrific scares
Have you ever thought about what would happen if the underclasses got fed up with us bourgeois folks? Not fed up like burning a few cars and making your daily Gautrain commute annoying. Not even fed up like causing chaos at universities because of a lack of access to education. Nope, we’re talking about the kind of vexation that builds for so long that it eventually turns up at your door in the middle of the night with a pair of scissors and murder on its mind. This is the story of Us, Jordan Peele’s clever, sometimes overly symbolic and generally wonderful new movie.
Starring Black Panther’s Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke (who play Adelaide and Gabe Wilson), Us starts off telling of a suburban family whose home gets invaded by murderous red-clad doppelgangers. What it blossoms into, however, is a horror-themed social commentary piece about classism and the homicidal chickens it may bring home to roost.
If this is the point where you’re thinking “oh god another artsy lecture on social injustice disguised as a film”, then you can breathe a sigh of relief. If his previous film Get Out has taught us anything, it is that Peele is surprisingly good at tackling subjects such as racism without coming off as self righteous. He does that again here with aplomb.
As the movie unwinds, we discover that it is not just the Wilsons being menaced by their feral twins; the entire country is under attack from scissor wielding maniacs. Or are they maniacs at all?
One of the most entertaining and frustrating elements of the movie is how complicated it all gets from here. A lot of symbolism gets thrown around and you need to be watching very closely to get all of it. It is a little like trying to weave your way through a migrating school of red herrings. Everything seems to mean something but follow one too closely and you’ll end up in the weeds.
It is mitigated by a little bit of long-winded exposition but for the most part you are almost bound to descend down the wrong rabbit hole. Out of this sea of cryptic plot strands and seemingly important Bible verses emerges a twist that will probably squeeze a gasp out of you.
None of this would be possible without Nyongo’o’s performance. Her cast mates are good, but it’s the Kenyan-Mexican actress who, given some of her previous performances, manages to give you chills.
If you’re looking for easy watching have no fear, Kevin Hart is making a new movie and you will be sated soon. If however your palate is in the mood for something with complex flavour notes and a hint of class-war macabre, you’re going to want to dig into Us.