Western Courier

Jordan Peele shatters expectations with “Us”

Devon Greene, editor-in-chief

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I went and saw Jordan Peele’s new movie “Us” on March 22, and was blown away by the director’s second film. At points when I was in the theatre, I legitimately forgot to breathe because I was so invested in the film.

I’ve sworn off watching movie trailers because I feel they give away too much of the story, especially horror movies, so I came into this movie relatively blind. The movie begins with an especially tense scene as our main character, Adelaide, wanders off into a house of mirrors where she runs into someone who looks exactly like her. The film goes on to explain that every person in the United States has a doppelganger.

Before I give away too much of the plot, I’d like to dive into how Peele is changing the horror genre with his unique storytelling and fantastic cinematography. Peele brings a different viewpoint to horror that we haven’t seen in quite some time. The former comedic writer has focused on societal problems as the antagonist in his movies. In his debut film, “Get Out,” racism was the primary antagonist but in “Us,” Peele says basically nothing about race.

Get Out is one of the highest rated movies on Rotten Tomatoes where it stands at 98 percent. Movie fans around the world weren’t expecting Peele to churn up another classic in his second time releasing a movie but he did just that. We’ve heard of the sophomore slump in sports but the same theory applies to movies, surprisingly, Peele was able to avoid it as “Us” currently boasts a 94 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Peele casted black actors and showed that black actors can create some of the best films of all-time. Lupita Nyong’o takes on her first lead role in this film and she blew me away with her acting. Nyong’o dominated the screen whenever she was on it and her contrast between one character she plays and another is fantastic. Nyong’o studied the speech disorder spasmic dysphonia when preparing for her role. Her voice acting along with her physical acting left me extremely uneasy and nervous when she was portraying her doppelganger “Red.”

Another area that sets this movie apart from most is it’s use of music. I’m going to start delving into spoiler territory here, so I recommend you watch the movie before reading any further. There’s one scene where Peele uses “Good Vibrations” and it plays in the background while the white family is being murdered by Nyongo’s family’s doppelgangers. The contrast between the brutality of what is happening on screen and the happy vibe of the song is so jarring that it makes it remarkably memorable. A similar strategy was used in the movie “Strangers Prey at Night” when one of the main characters is fighting with the Man in the Mask while Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” plays in the background. Both of these scenes are some of my favorite in the horror genre because of the ingenious juxtaposition.

A second example of music that is more on brand with social commentary was the use of N.W.A.’s “F— tha Police.” “F— tha Police” is used as the mother of the white family is crawling towards her dead husband on the ground. This song was used perfectly because it’s been established that race relations between African Americans and the police is not as healthy as it should be. This is one of the few times where I feel race is subtly addressed in the film. The song also features the lyrics “F— the police comin’ straight from the underground” which is where the doppelgangers come from.

With Peele’s background in comedy, he does a fantastic job bringing scenes of comedic relief to the plot. Winton Duke was the main actor to bring the relief with multiple scenes where he made the people and the theatre bust out in laughter. Yet, one of the areas this movie excells in its comedy and then seconds later, flipping it on it’s head and throwing us in to a terrifying scene. The first scene that comes to mind to illustrate this is when Duke find’s the family’s doppelgangers waiting for them on the driveway. Duke walked out with a shovel to investigate and increasingly talked in a more threatening and “gangster-like” way in order to scare the shadowy figures away. Duke’s tone of voice and physical acting was hilarious but when he was finished talking, the doppelgangers scattered and the whole theater when silent as the biggest figure started making his way towards the house.

At this point, whenever I see Peele’s name attached to anything, I’m sprinting to the theatre with money in hand ready to hand it away. Peele is rebooting the “Candyman” franchise next year, and I cannot wait to see what the mastermind creates next.

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Jordan Peele shatters expectations with “Us”