Had it remained faithful to the home invasion genre, Us would have stuck the landing a tad better. Instead, it has scope and mythology.
Writer-director-producer Jordan Peele is a storyteller with ambitions, ideas, something to say, and for that reason the last 20 or so minutes lose their intensity in all the explaining.
Over-explaining, actually, isn’t altogether a bad thing for those of us eager to see a mainstream film that is not only unreservedly pro-American, but fiercely anti-socialist.
Peele takes his time introducing us to the Wilsons, a ridiculously appealing, upper-middle class nuclear family enjoying the splendors that come from working hard in America: nice car, summer home, and dad just bought himself a used boat — which is itself a metaphor for the wonders of capitalism. Sure, that boat’s going to require some work, some elbow grease, some investment; that’s because if you’re an honest man, nothing worth having comes easy. And once that boat is cherry, the payoff will be how it brings this family even closer together.
And this is a normal family. A loving family. This isn’t Hollywood’s perverted view of family. The kids listen to the parents. The parents have earned that moral authority. Mom and dad are in love. There’s no dysfunction, no hidden underbelly. Best of all, the fact that the Wilsons are black has nothing to do with anything. Us embraces the ideal of e pluribus unum, most especially through the Wilsons’ friendship with the Tylers, who just happen to be white.
Race is never an issue. Never brought up. You wouldn’t think a Hollywood Oscar-winner like Peele could even grasp the concept that this is how most Americans live. You see, unlike the media, hysterical left-wing politicians, and too much of Hollywood, out here in the real world we’re not obsessed with skin color. We hardly think about; and just like the Wilsons and the Tylers, we have achieved the color blindness our twisted elites have not. However…
This is a horror movie, which means something’s going to come along to destroy all this harmony, and wouldn’t you know, it’s… us.
But it’s really not us, it is the worst of us — the greedy, envious, grasping side of us, that part of us that wants something for nothing, that wants what everyone else worked for, that believes we are entitled to it. And we will take it through violence and murder, because that’s our idea of justice.
The Wilson’s are terrorized by their own doppelgangers: crude, malevolent, angry, bitter doubles who are, without question, Peele’s stand-ins for socialists. He’s even a bit on-the-nose by dressing them all in … red.
From out of nowhere they show up to organize, terrorize, menace, bully, and destroy what everyone else has, what everyone else worked for — and I’m talking about good and decent people who have done nothing to deserve this.
You see, the Wilsons are the movie’s real us — the most average of Americans, guilty of nothing more than live and let live.
“Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘I will bring on them a disaster they cannot escape. Although they cry out to me, I will not listen to them.” – Jeremiah 11:11
The plague here is the un-American side of us, the side that — as we learn at the end — is controlled by a central authority of some kind. And the fact they are activated (for lack of a better word) just as America is truly coming together and holding hands across America is, well, like I said before — Peele’s not subtle about his anti-socialist theme.
This doesn’t mean you don’t pity the doppelgangers. How can you not feel for these poor slobs who have been brainwashed into something even darker than the chanting, lazy, oppressive loons in the Occupy Wall Street movement, who also taint and trash everything they touch.
Smaller themes abound. Let’s just say the gift of children and the instinct to protect them will help to keep you alive. And children must learn how to fight for themselves. The battle against the evils of socialism is not one they can shy away from. This is also a cautionary tale about the importance of a owning a gun and learning how to use it. The Wilsons do not own one and you cannot help but think how much different things would have gone had they done the right thing.
The NRA should sponsor some screenings.
Without being cute or gimmicky, Us is touched by a number of other horror films, most especially The Shining (1980), Funny Games (2007), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), The Strangers (2008), and John Carpenter’s The Fog (1980).
Jordan Peele is a helluva director. The staging, pacing, and editing of the middle forty minutes, which are about as perfect as a horror movie can get, are nothing short of brilliant. Us also has a terrific score and song selection.
What’s more, there are a ton of laughs that in no way feel out of place. The performances are top notch, most especially the gorgeous Lupita Nyong’o, who takes full advantage of a dual role any actor would kill for. As her son and daughter, Evan Alex and Shahadi Wright Joseph also stand out.