It’s two for two for Jordan Peele.
The former co-star of comedy sketch series Key and Peele aced it out the gate with his feature directorial debut. Get Out was not only a critical hit, locking in a Rotten Tomatoes score of 86%, it was a financial hit with a huge worldwide draw of $US255.4 million from a budget of just $US4.5 million. Oh, and Peele also took home an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. So, no pressure for his sophomore effort then.
Great news. At least according to the first wave of reviews being released, it appears that Peele has another hit on his hands. Us stars Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke and Elisabeth Moss and follows a family as their vacation turns to hell when they’re terrorised by their doppelgängers — and word is that it’s a chilling watch.
At the time of writing, a 100% Tomatometer score (based on 39 reviews) gives you an idea of the praise that’s coming out for this one. Reviews are describing it as potent, highly effective horror, but also pointing out a balancing act of comedy and social commentary. It seems that Peele’s layered screenplay and on-point direction is further solidifying him as a stand-out filmmaker, and the lead performance here by Oscar winner Nyong’o may be her best yet. A number of reviews, by the way, point out that it’s the type of film where the less you know of the plot, the better.
Not all reviews are praising it as a perfect film, mind you. Although it’s generally being described as very good, some point out an occasionally misbalanced tonal mix of horror and comedy, as well as some suggesting mentioning iffy third-act narrative turns.
As always, take these reviews as just some early opinions. We’ll see what the general consensus becomes when Us hits the US on March 22 and arrives in Australia on March 28 . We. Can’t. Wait.
Here’s a bit of a rundown of what the critics are saying:
Themes aside, US still fully invests in the horror genre. Glimpses of The Shining, Black Swan and others show that Peele does his homework. The bloody violence, the tears, the screams, the jump scares – all familiar, but still done in a fresh way. […] US proves that Peele hasn’t experienced that typical sophomore slump. Like Get Out, the film takes horror to interesting and new heights by, above all, centering Black characters.
Once again, the director draws upon the sketch-comedy gifts he honed on “Key & Peele” to achieve an artful, ruthless balance of horror and hilarity. “Us” is a tour de force of comic tension and visceral release, a movie that weaponizes our chuckles against us and reminds us that laughing, screaming and thinking are not mutually exclusive pleasures.
Thanks to a smart script and great performances from the main cast—notably a prowess-unlocked Lupita Nyong’o and a wonderfully loose Winston Duke—Us is both laugh out loud hilarious and disturbingly eerie all at one.
“Us” plays as two contrasting movies: one is very much a jump-scare-filled, thrilling horror flick that many of us grew up watching, while the other is a much deeper and complicated drama with a sometimes muddled message about society. It’s a smart strategy but also a bit disorienting.
Us is something of a frustrating watch, a visual and technical marvel that just doesn’t seem to know what it is. Unlike Get Out, which only swelled in impact as you left the theater, Us is best viewed on a visceral level, not an intellectual one.
Us is a superb sophomore outing for Peele. Blending humor and scares with some amazing actors and fantastically tense home invasion set pieces, it comes strongly recommended.
… it offers twists and ironies and false endings galore — along with more laughs than the comedian-turned-auteur dared to include in his debut film. Though probably more commercially limited by its genre than its hard-to-pigeonhole predecessor, it packs a punch.
It’s the kind of movie that will be discussed and debated for decades to come, and perhaps thirty years from now, as things continue to descend into utter chaos, “Us” will be looked back in retrospect as prophetic. As it stands now, it’s fascinating, a little maddening, and entertaining.
[Nyong’o’s] assuredness, and Peele’s, keep Us on an even keel as it winds through different tones and modes and influences. It’s a home invasion thriller and a social commentary, with the graceful timing of a veteran comic. It might be an ancient fairy tale made new, or a modern legend made timeless. Or maybe none of those descriptions are quite fair, since above all, Us just feels like itself.