'Us' (2019): A Sophomore Success
Horror has had its fair share of creatures. Creatures from black lagoons, wolfmen, and men in masks. Each one iconic in their own light, but the best ones give us some insight to how we view the world, and in some cases ourselves. The latter is the primary terror for the Wilson family, whose countryside vacation comes to a violent end with some unlikely visitors. Themselves.
The film has, quite frankly, a mesmerizing first act. The level of tension and intrigue crafted in these first few scenes is comparable to some of the best in the genre. Even in showing the Wilson family as happy as can be, there’s an inescapable sense of dread that follows them. Executed with cinematography that feels instantly iconic, and punctuated perfectly by Michael Abels’ profound score.
Still, all the atmosphere in the world is worth nothing without characters to care about. To that end ‘Us’ massively succeeds. Fittingly, the characters feel like reflections of people. Without delving into stereotype, the classic american family is one you grow to love in ‘Us’. Which makes it all the more terrible to watch them chased down by scissor wielding doppelgangers.
The family’s charm is matched only by the terror of the antagonists. The cast is pulling double duty in the film, and gives us 4 different demons, each unsettling in their own way. Whether it’s the imposing monstrosity of Winston Duke’s physique, or the frozen smile of Shahadi Wright, the end result is the same. Chills. Most of which, come from Lupita Nyong’o, who once again proves she’s a gift to the craft.
For many viewers, ‘Us’ will be gripping from start to finish. It sets up its tale with intriguing elements that add a mystery element to the horror. It’s an age old design. The audience wants to know more, even if it means being frightened. They just can’t look away. That suspsense though is almost impossible to satiate. For many, what ‘Us’ presents will leave them wanting, unable to match what their imaginations conconted. However, that’s largely subjective. All that matters is that the film is able to stick the landing it creates for itself.
The highs of ‘Us’ are very high, and do plenty to drive home its overall message. The film suggests without being heavy handed that our own failings become our downfall. With the highs though, there are lows. While ‘Get Out’ was a slow burn, ‘Us’ is more of a rapid fire, giving it a few pacing issues in a middling second act. Not to mention the moments of levity that feel like they undercut the film’s tension, rather than balancing it.
‘Us’ is a film that will no doubt stick with viewers after the curtain’s close, and be the subject of much debate long after its release. It’s thought provoking in the best way and succeeds to great lengths and fails with mere missteps.
Rating: Big Screen Watch