Us (2019): ‘A Horror without Horror’ – A Film Review

 

Introduction

After the wild success of Get Out, Jordan Peele was sure to follow up on his debut film. Us is that follow up. Given the themes of Get Out it was perhaps likely that his next adventure would have similar ideas. A Horror film focusing on tense atmospheres and themes of what is real and who we are. Though the film wasn’t especially original, it revitalised the horror genre and brought Jordan Peele a lot of attention. Placing a lot of pressure on his next film to be able to continue his winning streak.

 

The Story and Characters

The problem is that all the atmosphere doesn’t work without interesting characters or story. Events are very predictable and this leaves the long moments of tension as just boredom. Further hindering this tension, Jordan Peele seems desperate to place inappropriate humour throughout this film. The central ideas seem to run around the idea of doppelgangers, which are using all the cheesy tropes to make them creepy, but they’re like ghouls without any actual threat. Their interest in their counterparts seem to be confused and somewhat directionless. If there is a need for that other, it is hinted and awkwardly presented. There is a sense that Us is Jordan Peele attempting a ghost film or a home invasion film; but ghost films succeed with the lack of cause and supernatural power, whilst home invasion films work when there is a real sense of inescapable threat rendering your home an unsafe place. Look to Funny Games, Knock, Knock, Goodnight Mommy or The Innocents and A Tale of Two Sisters.

 

Us in Cinema

On the other hand, the visual style certainly works to compliment the moments, looking slick and with an ominous nature. Long shots are often used to get a sense of an onlooker to the characters, as we take in the difficulties of their relationships, but it also works to disassociate the audience from the characters. This might have worked better if used more sparingly and after characters are well established to the audience. Although characters aren’t exactly given the ability to really shine, the performances of the cast show a dedication and likeability to be able to pull through and imbue emotion into some of the scenes. There’s just so much looking at someone’s intense and believable crying that we can do without getting bored.

 

Conclusion

Though the concept had potential and isn’t a concept used in a while, it fails in its execution like someone falling in love and rushing into their idea. It’s an unfortunate step down from Get Out for Jordan Peele, as if struggling to live up to his runaway hit. It remains a mild piece of horror, touching on themes and touching on tensions but never really becoming a strong piece of Horror. The idea is interesting enough to be memorable but will fade to the background as just ‘one of those Horrors’.

 

Synopsis

The Wilson family go on a beach holiday, where Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o) had 30 years prior come across a terrifying experience; but in the present day, her and her family encounter some doppelgangers intent on their fear and/or harm.

 

Ratings

Entertainment:

starfish starfish starfish starfish starfish

Performances:

starfish starfish starfish starfish starfish

Predictability:

starfish starfish starfish starfish starfish

Technical:

starfish starfish starfish starfish starfish

 

A Note on My Reviews

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis below the review for any who wish to see one.

 

Films Mentioned

A Tale of Two Sisters (d. Jee-woon Kim South Korea 2003)

Funny Games (d. Michael Haneke Austria 1997)

Get Out (d. Jordan Peele USA 2017)

Goodnight Mommy (d. Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz Austria 2014)

Knock, Knock (d. Eli Roth USA/Chile 2015)

The Innocents (d. Jack Clayton UK 1961)

Us (d. Jordan Peele USA/Japan 2019)

 

Further Reading

rottentomatoes.com

metacritic.com

Official Site

Interview with Jordan Peele

Interview with Lupita Nyung’o

Interview with Cast

Behind the Scenes

Easter Eggs

 

If you liked this

Get Out (2017) – A Film Review

Happy Death Day 2U (2019): ‘A Step Back in Horror Filmmaking’ – A Film Review

Glass (2019): ‘Grounded Super Heroes’ – A Film Review

 

This was an analytical review of….

 

Us (d. Jordan Peele USA/Japan 2019)



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