So, two nights ago I saw Us in theaters. I wanted to blog it yesterday but I needed to address a few other time sensitive issues, the most prominent being National Joe Day. Today, however, I have some time on my hands, which is exactly what I need to appropriately address this film because, well, there’s a lot to dissect here.
For those unfamiliar with Us, I suggest you navigate from the confines of your bomb shelter because if you haven’t heard of this movie yet, there’s a solid chance you haven’t seen the sun over the past year either. According to various movie websites, I guess this film holds the second-highest box office revenue numbers for an original live-action movie (so not based on any preexisting intellectual properties) behind Avatar which, for those keeping score at home, made a few bucks.
As always, there will be no plot spoilers below…
Essentially, Us follows the story of Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o), a wife and mother of two, as her family returns to the beachfront property where she used to live as a child. Haunted by an unexplainable trauma, chaos ensues when a group of doppelgängers mysteriously appear in their driveway to pursue them.
Following the massive success of Get Out last year, this is Jordan Peele’s second directorial adventure and, obviously, it comes with a great deal of pressure and expectation. Get Out was 2017’s pleasant surprise of the year and it’s nearly impossible to review this movie without bringing it up; however, I’m not here to compare the two. When it comes down to it, these are two completely different movies. I’m not going to hold someone’s past successes against them so don’t expect any parallels.
For the record, I often give a lot of disclaimers before my reviews and this one’s no different. As I already stated, I don’t do spoilers, which is normally a pretty easy tight rope to walk, but with Us, it’s nearly impossible. Why? Well, because nearly all of my criticism with this movie deals with the laundry list of plot holes that are left unfilled.
One on hand, I understand that certain genres permit more than others. With dramas, you basically need to hammer believability; with sci-fi, super hero, and horror films, you get a pretty good leash when it comes to the audience’s suspension of disbelief. For example, to put it simply, you don’t need to explain much as long as it’s cool. Considering Us falls in the suspense/horror genre, it gets that leash, but at times it’s abused. It’s a give an inch, take a mile type deal throughout, but if you can just say “fuck it,” sit back, and watch, then it’s tough to leave the theater unsatisfied.
And this is why I’m not a gigantic fan of Rotten Tomatoes. For the most part, water finds its level and the percentage a movie yields is essentially what you’re getting; however, Us will undoubtably receive an inflated rating based on what I just said.
With Rotten Tomatoes, the “Tomatometer” corresponds to the percentage of critics who gave the film an overall favorable review, meaning they liked the film more than they didn’t. What the “Tomatometer” doesn’t take into account is how much the critics liked each movie. For example, if I gave a film an 8, I would get dumped into the Rotten Tomatoes database as the equivalent of a “green light” or a “thumbs up,” rather than the 80% I technically gave it.
So yeah, I can assure you that most people (Rotten Tomatoes currently has Us at a 95% approval rating) will leave the theater satisfied, but I can also assure you most of those people would agree that, although they liked it, it’s not a 95.
As I mentioned, nearly all of my criticism deals with a lack of exposition so, instead of ruining the movie for everyone, I’ll stick to “book cover” commentary.
Lupita Nyong’o is absolutely FANTASTIC in this movie, which should come as no surprise given her track record, which is spearheaded by her Oscar-winning performance in 12 Years A Slave. Long story short, it’s early in the year (which doesn’t help her cause) but you can most likely expect a few nods to come her way during Oscar season, which is rare for those who appeared in a horror/suspense release. On top of that, Elisabeth Moss is just as incredible, but in a much smaller role. I hate to sound dismissive given how small her part was, but this was the most fitting role I’ve seen an actress play in awhile.
All in all, I can’t hammer home how much I liked this movie, as well as how many flaws it had at the same time without giving too much away.
In order to enjoy this movie, you need to take a leap. You need to be able to suspend your disbelief dramatically which, in Peele’s defense, isn’t a lot to ask for in a horror film. Simply put, if you’re someone who doesn’t ask a lot of questions, you’ll love this movie; if you’re someone who does, it’s still certainly worth the price of admission.
Final Score: 8.4 Boats of out 10