At the Movies with Alan Gekko: Us “2019”

MPAA Rating: R/Genre: Horror/ Stars: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Anna Diop, Cali Sheldon, Noelle Sheldon, Madison Curry, Ashley McKoy, Napiera Groves, Duke Nicholson, Kara Hayward, Nathan Harrington, Dustin Ybarra, Alan Frazier, Lon Gowan; Voice of: Jordan Peele/ Runtime: 116 minutes

I think it is safe to start this review off dear reader by letting you know that if the movie Get Out from 2017 wasn’t enough to convince you that cinema had a new hit filmmaker on her hands in the form of comedic talent Jordan Peele then I am most assuredly hoping that Us will be the slice of cinematic pie that seals the deal. I say that because with this truly phenomenal slice of cinematic pie, Peele has gone ahead at his second time at bat and once again knocked it out of the park with a chilling and riveting glimpse at one family going through one of the worst possible nightmares ever whilst also proving that sometimes the phrase “you are your own worst enemy” can be taken quite literally under specific circumstances. I mean don’t get me wrong dear reader: this slice of cinematic pie is most assuredly an extremely odd movie. At the same time though that is most definitely ok by this reviewer because I don’t think we could really classify this as a “Jordan Peele film” if things actually went the way that you might be expecting them to go. Yet no matter how weird the narrative tends to go, the film is able to stay rooted in place thanks to some truly phenomenal performances especially from Lupita Nyong’o who gives one of the best performances of her career. Suffice it to say therefore that with Us, Jordan Peele hasn’t just made another terrific movie; rather he has also made another new riveting American spooky saga that, as with Get Out, is equal parts chilling and insightful all rolled into one.

The plot is as follows: Our movie gets underway in the long gone year of 1986 and allows us to meet a young girl by the name of Adelaide Thomas as she is spending time with her bickering yet loving parents at a carnival near the beach at Santa Cruz in California. However, our young heroine soon finds this idyllic time turning into a straight up nightmare when, while her parents get into a particularly bitter argument, she decides to go wandering off by herself as most kids her age tend to do from time to time (I could tell you some stories…). A choice that results in our intrepid young heroine deciding to go into an odd hall of mirrors-type attraction where she finds herself coming face to face with a spot-on copy of herself. An experience that results in such a significant degree of trauma that poor little Adelaide is unable to talk for a long time afterwards. Quite a few years later and we see Adelaide is now an adult with a loving and goofy hubby by the name of Gabe and a pair of terrific children named Zora and Jason respectively. We soon learn that the family is on their way to a family vacation in, no kidding, Santa Cruz at the jovial insistence of family patriarch Gabe. However, despite her best attempts to enjoy herself and just relax, we see it’s not long before the emotional trauma from her past comes roaring back to the surface and Adelaide finds herself just wanting to go back to where the family is staying as quickly as possible. Yet things soon go from bad to downright horrifying when that night the family is besieged by a quartet of individuals dressed all in red who soon reveal that they are the family’s doubles and they aim to kill the family and take their place. Thus as the night turns into a bloody mission for no more and no less than pure survival, it isn’t long before this family discovers that there might just be a much more perilous danger on the horizon….

Now although there did seem to be some reluctance to label Get Out as a “horror movie”, I think that it can safely be said that there will be no reluctance when it comes to calling this slice of cinematic pie such. Indeed from the moment that the red-clad quartet are seen outside the house and start terrorizing the family inside said house, I think it doesn’t take a genius to figure out just what kind of movie this is meant to be. Thus even though a lot occurs in this movie, please remember before anything else that this is meant to be a horror film and as an entry in the horror genre, this is one slice of cinematic pie that operates quite beautifully. Indeed from the moment things start going downhill, things just keep getting more and more nightmarish and yes everything is moving by at a rapid pace, but if the characters involved aren’t getting much in the way of a respite from all the chaos then what makes you think that you, the viewer, will? Along with that, it should be said that everything about the script, penned by Peele incidentally, is rock solid and on point including the fact that every single time a character makes a choice in this movie it actually makes some degree of sense either at the time they make it or at some point as the film goes on. I mean if there is any issue I had with this movie’s script, and I can’t really fault the movie itself for this, it would be the fact that I knew where this film was heading way before it had a chance to get to where it was headed. Thinking about it though, I am pretty confident that I can’t really blame the script for that. The reason is because just because you know how the movie wraps up doesn’t make that much of an impact in your viewing experience since the narrative is not altered in any huge manner as a result. Actually, if anything I think it manages to strengthen the message that this slice of cinematic pie is trying to pass on to the viewer though in all fairness a lot of what this film is trying to convey should be fairly obvious. Suffice it to say that, without going into spoilers, this movie, much like Get Out, is proof that sometimes the best way to really terrify the heck out of an audience is to make them look inward for the monster rather than all over the place outside. Now with all of that being said, I do feel there is quite a bit about this movie that you won’t be able to pick up if you just watch it one time. Indeed this is because this film tries to unload quite a bit of narrative on you as the movie is winding down with the point in mind of filling in the remaining slots on the puzzle board that are still a mystery to us so that way we can finally begin to see the bigger picture. This proves to be quite the mixed bag because on one side of the argument I don’t really know if everything in this film really does require an explanation, but on the other side it does result in you wanting to rewatch the movie as many times as you need to in order to fully get what is going on for yourself so make of that therefore what you will dear reader.

Now whilst yes this slice of cinematic pie incredibly well acted by a truly phenomenal cast, it is first and foremost the main family at the heart of this narrative as well as their own homicidal doppelgangers that deserve perhaps the highest amount in terms of recognition. Indeed even though they are, by all outward appearances, the same people there is no way you will be able to mistake them. This is because each member of the cast that makes up the main family manages to give their homicidal double a distinct personality that makes them both riveting and no less than downright terrifying as well. At the end of the day though this is easily and without a doubt Lupita Nyong’o’s movie, and there simply isn’t enough that can be said about how phenomenal her dual performance here really truly is. Indeed as Adelaide she is fierce and focused even if she has always carried around a deep-rooted terror that was conjured up from a moment in time where the phrase “finding yourself” became for her a horrifying reality. Yet the moment her family comes under siege by this menace and things go absolutely haywire, she becomes in equal measure an action heroine as much as she is a victim in all the terror occurring. In the role of her double Red however, Lupita is absolutely horrifying and then some. Indeed she moves and operates with such an otherworldly way about her to say nothing of her raspy nails on the chalkboard-style voice that it will not surprise you in the least to feel a chill or 2 go down your spine every time she is on screen. Suffice it to say then that this slice of cinematic pie’s cast’s immense talent for giving these parts the depth that is essential to make these horror film into something truly special is something truly marvelous to behold.

All in all as I said previously in this review, there is so much to dissect and analyze with this slice of cinematic pie that I would be amazed if you, the reader were to be able to make sense of it all after only viewing this film one time. That’s because much in the same vein as Get Out from 2017, film helmer Jordan Peele made darn certain that this slice of cinematic pie required multiple times of sitting down and watching it in order to catch all the themes, winks, nods, and allusions that are thrown the audience’s way. At the same time, I also can understand how some people have felt that perhaps this slice of cinematic pie may have been aided immensely by either making this into a two-parter or in locating a singular idea to concentrate more time on than just throwing everything including the kitchen sink it feels like at audiences all at once. Be that as it may be, there is no denying that at the end of the day Us really truly is one heck of a slice of cinematic pie filled to the brim with its helmer’s distinct flair and style. Indeed the cast is all phenomenal, the narrative is riveting, the final showdown is riveting, and the ending is absolutely jaw-dropping in the best way possible. Suffice it to say this is one movie you and your double (should the latter actually exist) should most definitely check this one out. You will not regret it. On a scale of 1-5 I give Us “2019” a solid 4 out of 5.