Posts Tagged ‘Us’

Us (2019)

October 14, 2019

When I was a preteen, my family used to go to Busch Gardens Williamsburg which I loved the theming of. Part of the theming at the time was that each section of the park was patterned after a European country. My favorite was Banbury Cross (Olde England) but that is not relevant here. One of the sections was themed after Germany, most of which was based on the yearly celebration of Oktoberfest. One of the attractions that I actually chose to ride was a riverboat that cruised up and down the river gently. However, the boat that we boarded was called The Doppelganger. It was during this trip that the tour guide decided to explain what the boat’s namesake was. He told us that everybody in the world has a doppelganger out there. If you ever meet your doppelganger, they could easily kill you and take over your life. The thought terrified me. Back then I really believed in such things and the thought of another me, itching to get rid of me chilled me to the bone. It stuck with me even if it passed from my mind from time to time.

The idea has been explored to some extent before. This idea that we are our own worst enemy is nothing new. We are our own worst critic but also our best advocate and those sides of us are in constant war with each other. If that dark side of ourselves were to manifest as an actual being, all of our worst energies, it would be most dangerous to ourselves. My anxiety and periodic depression have made me very critical of me and I come down hard on myself in my bluest periods. The thought of that darkness leaking out into the world and coming against me and the ones that I love is a bad, bad thought. To have it literally happen is even worse than the few times I have shot my mouth off and made things worse. The clearest example of it I can remember is Invasion of the Body Snatchers and also an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I feel like the concept could use more exploring so I am glad to see it here.

The first thing I noticed was how psychological this movie is. Jordan Peele has proven that he does not need fancy effects to make things absolutely eerie. He does a lot with camera shots, music, and the expressions of his actors that absolutely makes me incredibly tense. He plays with light and shadow and simple optical tricks that mess with your head. Long silences left me stuck in anticipation, waiting for what horrible thing might happen next. Even things I expected to happen ended up scaring me. That is the sign of a great horror movie. I spent a lot of the movie filled with both the dread of what I knew was probably going to happen but also the fear of not knowing for sure if that was what would happen. Of course, being Jordan Peele, there are greater things at work too. The symbolism itself is scary as Hell. The concepts themselves bring a lot to the table. There are great political messages that are reflected in horrible ways.

Part of what makes this movie so good is the brilliant cast that they were able to get. For example, Peele was able to nab Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke fresh off of their star-making turn in Black Panther. Nyong’o plays a loving mother who is already fraying at the edges at the start of the movie from childhood trauma. Duke plays her husband, a nerdy but lovable certified dad who is just trying to figure his family out. Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex play their young children who are quirky but normal kids. Of course, as you might expect they all play double duty and they are fantastic at it. The cast is rounded out by Tim Heidecker and Elizabeth Moss who are pretty creepy as well.

Overall, the movie had me on the edge of my seat the entire run. I was absolutely gripped by this movie in the same way that I was gripped by Get Out. I prayed both for a good ending and for somebody to explain to me what was happening. I also really loved the message in this one. While many horror movies have a message, some of the best ones have political messages. They are a dark reflection of our human condition and this one is no different. I absolutely recommend this.


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