“Us” Reimagines Horror Genre

Jordan Peele’s second horror film, Us is a smash hit at the box office and has amassed worldwide praise, all for good reason. This film is simultaneously terrifying and hilarious, while providing a thought-provoking critique of society, proving once again that Jordan Peele is a master of the horror genre.

The film, set on a summer vacation in Santa Cruz, follows the Wilson family as they battle a twisted and vicious set of doppelgangers, slowly revealing a previously unknown dark underbelly of the world. It directly follows Peele’s acclaimed film, Get Out, which drew immense praise for its profound portrayal of race relations in America through the structure of a horror film. Although Us could not fully live up to the chilling relevance of the groundbreaking Get Out, and wasn’t expected to, the story told still serves as a powerful reflection of America and a critique of various aspects of American society. Themes of division relating to class and privilege as well as ideas about duality and identity are apparent throughout the film. The idea of being one’s own worst enemy becomes clear as we see the Wilsons violently battle their own doppelgangers, exploiting their similarities. Also present in the film is the idea that inherent goodness and evil do not truly exist, and that one’s character is a response to one’s surroundings. 

Following a thrilling opening scene in which a young girl, Adelaide Wilson, wanders away from her parents at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and has a harrowing experience in a house of mirrors, the film flashes forward to the present, when Adelaide, now an adult portrayed by the incredible Lupita Nyong’o, returns to Santa Cruz with her family. Before the trip goes south, and chaos and terror ensue, the audience is given just time to fall in love with the Wilsons. The father, Gabe Wilson, played by Winston Duke, is dorky and endearing while the children, Zora and Jason, are witty and adorable which fully allies the viewers with them as they face incredible fear and trauma.

Social and political commentary aside, Us is simply a great horror film, with plenty of jump scares, cliffhangers and gore, though not gratuitously used. The plot is sound and well constructed and the dialogue is clever, providing a thrilling film overall that will no doubt remain an important film for years to come.

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