Well Jordan Peele was able to beat the mediocre freshman directorial debut clich, so if anyone can stump the sophomore slump it's him. 'Us' is the second feature from writer-director Jordan Peele, following his Oscar-winning start with 'Get Out' in 2017. It follows a family (Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex) […]

Well Jordan Peele was able to beat the mediocre freshman directorial debut clich, so if anyone can stump the sophomore slump it's him.

'Us' is the second feature from writer-director JordanPeele, following his Oscar-winning start with 'Get Out' in 2017. It follows afamily (Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex) asthey are targeted by a group of doppelgänger assailants. Elisabeth Moss and TimHeidecker also star.

When I first saw 'Get Out' I found it to be a good-not-greathorror film that maybe bit off more than it could chew. Upon six (!) rewatches,however, I have come to realize Peele had just created a multi-layeredscreenplay with hidden codes and verbal keys and one watch just wasn't enoughto see the actual brilliance. And I'm not saying 'Us' is another award-worthyturn from Peele, but I already know I need another viewing to see if my hindsighttheories are correct and for what it's worth, I like it about as much as my firstround of 'Get Out.'

What people will surely praise here are the performances of LupitaNyong'o and Winston Duke, who play not only their real human parents but alsothe doppelgängers. Nyong'o is often quiet and timid asa result of a past trauma but has moments of shouting when pushed to herlimits, and as her double conveys suppressed pain. Duke has lots of chances toflex his charisma and almost dry humor, as well as some physical displays asthe doppelgänger.

Peele's script isn't meant to hold a mirror to society aboutrace like 'Get Out' but instead hold a mirror to ourselves and see that ourdemons are our own worst enemy. The trailer for the film does give away a fewearly twists but overall Peele is able to keep the falling dominos coming. Muchlike 'Get Out' (not to keep comparing the two) the ending of this film createsa lot of questions and requires more viewings. What time will have to tell isare there plot holes or just another layered craft.

This film is both more 'jokey' and scarier than 'Get Out,'and sometimes the humor comes at the expense of a tense sequence. A few of the jokesland and act as levity, but more than one scary scene was compromised by a dad jokeat the wrong time. There is also one scene with distractingly bad effects; sinceNyong'o can't be in two places at once they seemingly green screened her in andthe outline on her figure and the flat background draw the viewer's attentionaway.

The more 'Us' sits with me in the two hours since thecredits rolled, the more I think I like it. It certainly is an original horrorfilm yet again by Peele, who hopefully doesn't get typecast as 'the horror guy'(he spoke how he feared repeating himself in comedy), and I think that while itmay be a tad divisive towards audiences it will age better than most horrorfilms. I look forward to seeing it again and hope that Peele's third film continueshis streak of defeating tropes and clichs.

Critic's Rating: 7/10

Universal Picture