‘Us’ is thrilling, thought-provoking film

Sean I. Mills
Staff writer
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Posted 3/31/19

The hotly anticipated horror film “Us” has arrived in theaters to deliver a creepy, unsettling and wickedly creative thriller. “Us” is the second film from new horror mastermind Jordan Peele, …

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‘Us’ is thrilling, thought-provoking film

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The hotly anticipated horror film “Us” has arrived in theaters to deliver a creepy, unsettling and wickedly creative thriller.

“Us” is the second film from new horror mastermind Jordan Peele, who created the popular and terrifying “Get Out” in 2017. Peele is once again writing and directing his new horror flick, producing a solid mix of spine-tingling frights and thoughtful social commentary.

Come for the thrills and chills, stay for the deep metaphors about the ugly side of American history. This is the sort of film that will really make you think, if you let it.

“Us” stars Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke as a mother and father taking their kids on a beach getaway, only to have the whole family menaced by weird, evil, mirror duplicates of themselves. These duplicates, each one twisted in their own unique way, truly make your skin crawl. These are horror villains unlike any other.

The actors pull double duty playing both the regular characters and their evil twins. It’s a neat trick that works very well.

“Us” is an exceptional horror film, one that gets a lot of mileage out of its terrifying villains. But Peele is a smart enough filmmaker that he knows to add a bit of levity to his horror films. This isn’t a movie where the main characters are picked off one-by-one in more and more gruesome ways. This is a film that knows how to use humor and strong characters to keep the audience engaged.

Unlike Peele’s earlier film, “Us” is far more subtle when it comes to societal and historical commentary — but it’s definitely there.

The movie is focused on the horror story throughout, but the hidden meanings and deeper metaphors are worth considering, and they add an extra level of appreciation to the whole experience. The movie has a lot to say.

The evil twin killers represent multiple metaphors on several different levels. Based on their origins — and yes, the film does reveal where they come from — they represent the shared, shameful past of all Americans, such as slavery or the treatment of Native Americans. The sorts of topics that most people would rather not think about it.

Then when that past comes back to bite us, it doesn’t come in the form of an outsider or an invader; it comes back as us. We will bring about our own downfall.

Just look at the film’s title. When you capitalize both letters in “Us” it becomes the U.S.

And that’s just scratching the surface of what “Us” is about. The film is full of metaphors and subtlety. The idea that the movie has anything to say about the plight of Native Americans is part of an expertly placed background gag that goes by so fast you might blink and miss it.

The movie doesn’t beat you over the head with all these deeper meanings. They’re a bonus feature, something to really wrap your head around once you’ve left the theater. It’s the creepy, bone-chilling horror that will keep you in your seats until then.

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