While I’m not saying that I didn’t like Us, I clearly didn’t love it. It is nearly two hours long and it suffers from repetitive scenes that weaken its horrifying impact.
This is a horror film that tells the story of Gabe and Adelaide Wilson, a married couple traveling with their two children to return to a countryside home sitting near a lake where Adelaide grew up. The movie begins with Adelaide as a child where she has an unfortunate encounter in an arcade funhouse that still haunts her.
Soon after arriving at their home, a family of four strangers appears in their driveway at night. Refusing to leave, they eventually break in and assault the terrified Wilson clan. The trauma is increased by the discovery that these intruders are a group of doppelgängers disturbingly resembling the Wilson family.
The movie reaches its peak at the very moment that the Wilsons are left fighting for their lives. Though they were able to escape in their vehicle, the danger intensified when they discovered that subterranean human creatures were attacking other homes after developing the ability to resemble their victims.
The film is mercifully helped by the strong performance of Lupita Nyong’o as both Adelaide and her female lookalike known as Red. Ms. Nyong’o is alternatively terrified and sinister, and you begin to suspect that their relationship has something to do with Adelaide’s encounter as a child in the funhouse referred to above. As the film drags on a bit, Ms. Nyong’o again displays the skills demonstrated in last year’s Black Panther, the unfortunately overlooked Queen of Katwe (2016) and her Oscar-winning role in 12 Years a Slave (2013).
In addition, while Winston Duke, also fresh off Black Panther, gives a credible performance as Adelaide’s beleaguered husband, it is Elizabeth Moss who dominates the movie with a very short appearance as Adelaide’s friend and neighbor. Though this is a spoiler alert, wait until you see her morph into her doppelgänger killer and begin to terrorize anyone she encounters.
Mr. Peele, who also wrote the script, unfortunately overcooks the film with social references. For example, there is a moment when Adelaide was a child when you hear an advertisement where Americans were going to stand hand to hand from sea to shining sea to fight the problem of hunger. When the doppelgängers emerge from their underground tunnels and sewers clad in red, you see them standing in a long line hand in hand that leaves you guessing if they are simply imitating the humans that they killed.
Quite frankly, at that moment Us begins to mimic the classic Night of the Living Dead (1968). I wish it would have been as good.