Jordan Peele burst onto the directing scene in 2017 with the incredible Get Out. Not only was this a first foray into directing, but also introduced himself as a brilliant new voice in horror. Now Peele is following that up with his new horror film Us.
Us follows a family on holiday in Santa Cruz who find themselves confronted by a family of doppelgängers and their fight for survival. Starting Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke as Adelaide and Gabe Wilson, the parents to Zora and Jason, played by Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex. All four actors also play the family’s doppelgängers, all of whom are so distinct from the original character, really meaning that everyone of them was pushed. None more so than Lupita Nyong’o whose two characters are at the heart of the story. She is incredible in the dual role of Adelaide and Red, bringing tonnes of heart to the former and delivering a terrifying performance as the latter.
Nyong’o is certainly one of the big talking points coming out of the film, but the other star is Jordan Peele. As in Get Out Peele proves himself as a master both in writing and directing. As a writer he has demonstrated an incredible creative ability in creating original concepts, although he has fully acknowledged the inspiration of The Twilight Zone. But as well as original storytelling Peele packs Us full of social commentary, the interpretation of which will be endlessly debated with obvious allusions to classism and the divided nature of America at the moment just some of the topics that the film touches on.
It is as a director though that Peele shines even more. If Get Out sparked some debate about whether or not it was a horror film (it was) there is no debate here. Peele has created a pure horror film with Us and it is truly terrifying. Featuring some of the scariest scenes from a horror film that I’ve seen in years. Peele knows how to create tension and true scares without having to resort to a jump scare every few minutes, with the first scene between the Wilsons and their doppelgängers one that will live long in the memory.
Of course so much of the tone and atmosphere is helped to be set by the score. Michael Abels worked with Peele on Get Out and paired with him once again for Us. This certainly proves to be a wise decision as Abels’ original score is incredibly unsettling, right from the off with an operatic choral piece that leaves you unnerved right from the start. The use of other music within the film is perfect as well, whether to help set the tone, or occasionally even play against it for comedic effect when Peele wants that.
Often people talk about a sophomore slump after an incredible debut film, but Jordan Peele has thrown off any suggestion that he will suffer one. Us may not end up with all the awards love that Get Out received, but it was just as brilliant a film in its own way.