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We went and saw Us, and while it was an incredibly solid horror movie, it did not live up to the hype. Yes, it had good social commentary and implications. Yes, it is by one of the most respected (if only because of his single debut horror movie, Get Out) writers, directors out there, Jordan Peele. Yes, it starred an all-black cast. It’s hard to follow something like Get Out with something even more impressive, and that’s the only sin that Us committed.
At its core, Us is a home invasion horror movie. Us is also a smart critique on America today, both politically, and socioeconomically. Even more, it’s a fun, and at times, funny movie that everyone can probably appreciate.
One of the many things that Us has going for it? It’s a conversation starter.
While it’s all the things I described above, it’s not particularly impressive in any stand-out way. It’s a solid movie that people will talk about, but it’s just not THAT thrilling. I was fairly bored during about ⅓ of this movie, and a lot of that was while the cat and mouse game between these two mirror families was playing out. It is an intricate, well-crafted film, with an eye on symbolism and obvious deep meaning. It just didn’t entertain me like I hoped it would.
Us Movie Spoilers
Us begins in 1986 on the Santa Cruz boardwalk, with young Adelaide having a fun time with her parents. At some point, she wanders off and discovers a House of Mysteries below the boardwalk, which is where she first comes into contact with her tethered-self.
This intro is nearly perfect in the way it builds tension and sets the atmosphere. I was enthralled immediately. The beach at night is a very scary place, and I think he captured that feeling quite well.
Adelaide is deeply traumatized and stops talking following this event for some time.
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Fast forward to the present day, and Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) is driving with her family to their vacation house near Santa Cruz. Adelaide is nervous about returning to the scene of the crime that caused her so much agony as a child.
The family has a few strange run-ins at the beach and a small scare. From here they meet up with their friends, the Tylers (Tim Heidecker and Elizabeth Moss). I can’t take Tim Heidecker seriously, for me, this is a miss-cast role, but to be fair, for most it’s probably a high point in the movie.
Her husband (Winston Duke) believes that she is overreacting when she starts having panics about the safety of her family, and the area in general. When they are getting ready to go to bed that night, the action ramps up when they see a family standing in their driveway.
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There is a lot of chasing and being chased in Us, which is the least fun part for me. There weren’t very many genuinely disturbing moments, there were few scares, and overall the middle of the movie felt very soft compared to what it could have been.
Thinking back on Get Out, it wasn’t a movie that went over-the-top with scares, it did what Us did, created ambiance, and mood quite well.
Us is well cast and acted, every single character was compelling and made the movie better except Tim Heidecker, whom, as I said, I just can’t take seriously.
So, when we meet the tethered people or the doppelgängers, the Adelaide tethered tells the story of who they are and how they came to be.
The happy middle-class family that is the Wilson’s has an inverse family of tethered people who are forced to live underground and have lives that are the inverse of their above-ground counterparts.
Read Our Halloween 2018 Review
The doppelgänger family lives in a place where suffering and cruelty is normal. This family has the last name Red. They hate their above-ground counterparts for obvious reasons and have decided to take their lives.
Us had a wonderful, original score, that reminds the audience that choral music and analog sounds do produce the creepiest vibe.
At the end, it is revealed that the underground copy of Adelaide kidnapped and swapped places with the above-ground girl in 1986. This insinuates that “We are them and they are us.” It’s the environment that makes the person.
One thing I noticed was that none of the Red family could talk except for Adelaide. No one underground ever talked, so the ability to talk was mostly lost in Adelaide who was forced underground. This also explains the supposed PTSD issue following the events of the 1986 boardwalk.
Us Pays Homage to Peele’s Inspiration
Lot’s of tributes are being paid in Us. Some of the things I noticed were:
- C.H.U.D. VHS
- Goonies VHS
- Michael Jackson’s Thriller T-Shirt
- Jaws T-shirt
- Main character named Jason (Friday the 13th)
- Villains wearing jumpsuits (Halloween)
- A villain who was a burn victim (Nightmare on Elm Street)
- A kid who would always wear a mask (Halloween)
What Does Us Movie Stand For?
Well, there are a lot of different ways people can an will interpret this movie, it was made to be interpreted a number of different ways. Here was my immediate takeaway impressions of Us.
The Bible verse that continuously appears in the film (Jeremiah 11:11) reads:
Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them.
Keep this in mind while interpreting the movie.
There is an obvious socioeconomic suggestion going on in Us – an analogy of class.
I couldn’t shake that this was an obvious criticism of an America who voted for Trump:
- The “evil” people were called Red.
- There is a fear of invaders, of people foreign to us whom we may believe are below us.
- There is a point in the movie where they reference hands across America, which seems like a direct Mexico wall reference — joining together to unite in building a wall.
- The suggestion that we don’t know who we are, we are a nation divided, half of us would like very much to ignore the other half, and that goes both ways.
- Also, following the twist ending the very real, “we are whom we hate” suggesting that those who think they are innocent are just as guilty.
All of this spoke very loudly to me about the state of America under Trump, today. Almost like a “Shame on you, America.”
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Final Recommendations For Us Movie
Anyone who enjoys a movie with a deeply well thought out meaning, or symbolism will be able to latch onto something within this movie that will spawn lots of interesting conversations. If you enjoy home invasion horror, this is a must see, although it’s not the best, it’s quite good. The trailer ruined this movie quite a bit for me. Most of the action in this movie just felt like the trailer+.
Three words for this movie,
Stupid, Stupid, Stupid.
David Day says
Why do you say that, Bill?
Luis Arroyo says
The plot twist ruins the movie in my opinion. When Adelaid’s Doppeldanger/tetherered speaks for the first time, she doesn’t expose the above Adelaide as the tethered clone.
Instead, she describes herself as one of the tethered.
1. Why didn’t she immediately exposed Adelaide as the Clone?
2. Why is the boy burned when the real above twin isn’t?
3. Why would the real Adelaide not attempt Escape? After all she knew how to get in there and her doppelganger easily walked out to the mirrors.
4 how could the people taking care of the tethered not realize Adelaide was wasn’t the tethered one? The moment she sees the people maintaining them, wouldn’t she have revealed herself to be human and told them how she been kidnapped & swaped? the fact that she would speak would’ve revealed to caretakers of the tethered the doppelganger had escaped… or did they decide to entrap her , drug her into a mental zombie lest the obviously illegal human cloning operation be exposed?…Oops, I think I just answered & figured out the ending myself.?
Bryce Hanson says
I liked that Peele kept a lot of things unexplained. It will give him room to explore in a sequel or an expanded universe.
Yeah I was extremely let down by this movie. Pretty dumb. Boring and pointless. Sure, you can appreciate the homages to other horror films as well as the socioeconomic messages, but they all felt like gimmicks in a movie with no substance whatsoever.
David Day says
It’s hard not to be let down by a movie with this much hype. I feel like the bones we’re decent and the themes we’re solid and we’ll executed. Also, it’s rare to see acting of this Calibre in horror.
I have been looking for a GREAT horror movie. Well I am still looking. This movie was the Pitts!
David Day says
Hey Jan, check out the movie, Terrified, on Shudder. Enter HMT at checkout to get thirty days free to stream the movies on there. It’s the best hard horror movie I’ve seen in ages.
Justin Collier says
i am very confused??????? so who was the actual good one and who was the actual bad one??????
David Day says
Well, that’s the rub – they are both good and both bad. TECHNICALLY, the one who started life BELOW was the actual mother of the family above and the one who started life ABOVE was the mother of family below. They switched places at the start of the movie in the tunnel of mysteries.
Justin Collier says
Btw why is the mom so slow and might i point out the dad is the funniest person ever!
David Day says
Yea, she was pretty slow, probably an homage to classic slasher slow baddies like Jason and Michael. The dad was great!
The review ruined it for me….They bash our President and country. I know that America is doing well today and the facts speak for themselves. And how can we truly stand divided? The political judgement is all in the move to program us. To dumb is down and it is actually doing the opposite …Shame on the move industry ..
David Day says
This review ruined it for you?