Breihan Dryden, A&E Writer
I would like to start this review with a quote from my mother.
“What the f— did I just watch?”
Back in 2017, comedian Jordan Peele shocked the world by releasing a really, really solid horror film called Get Out. While some hailed this film as a masterpiece (it even scored the man an Oscar) and others thoroughly despised the film, I sat firmly in the “Yeah, it was pretty good.” category. The film went on to make a stupid amount of money on a relatively low budget and naturally, people were incredibly curious to see what Mr. Peele would do next. Fast forward to 2019 and we can finally view the fruits of his creative labor and boy, it sure is something. It is so much something, I honestly don’t really know what to think about it.
Much like Get Out, people have already started calling this film a modern masterpiece and I am of the opinion that those people are A.) Not very well versed in the horror genre (of which Peele has made it incredibly known that this film is a horror film). Or, B.) They see this movie as a political tool they can use to pander to the black community by way of the bigotry of low expectations. That’s not to say that Us is a film of low quality, it isn’t. Neither is it me saying that Jordan Peele is a bad/incompetent writer or director, he isn’t. He is, however, still pretty new to the horror genre and has a few missteps in his films. Sorry to get political for a moment but unfortunately, you can’t talk about this film without getting political. On to the actual review!
“So what did you like about the movie, Breihan?” Well, I actually dig quite a lot about this movie. It has a very solid look to it, specifically through its use of color and the fantastic cinematography from Mike Gioulakis, specifically during the entire opening segment. The soundtrack by Michael Abels is also pretty fantastic. From eerie chants, to jarring percussive blasts, to a wonderfully creepy rendition of the song “I Got 5 On It”, the score as a whole is as the kids say, “solid af”. Some other things I liked were the family dynamic of our main characters, some genuinely laugh out loud moments, Tim Heidecker in general, and (most of) the performances.
“What about the things you didn’t like?” For starters, it isn’t scary, save for one really well executed jump scare. That’s not say there aren’t some good atmospheric build ups, but they never go anywhere. Something else, is that this film is soaked in 80’s film and horror references. Normally, this wouldn’t bother me so much, but Jesus Christ, I would say that this film and its dialogue is about 70% comprised of references to 80’s horror. Granted, it has a purpose within the story, I just personally think that the way Peele handled it was fairly lazy. Up top I mentioned that most of the acting was good and that still holds true, but there are two very glaring issues that I have with the, um, “mouth noises” of certain characters (you’ll understand if you see the movie). Specifically, I have a problem with the doppelganger “mouth noises” of Gabe and Adelaide Wilson. While actress Lupita Nyong’o has gone on record saying that she spent a good chunk of time learning how to create her choppy vocal performance without damaging her vocal chords and I can respect that, I also think it sounds reallllllly dumb. As for Winston Duke, I don’t know if he didn’t really understand what was wanted of him or if JP was just like “Nah man, that primal yell is going to sound super scary”, but Christ, it just doesn’t work in the slightest. Again, there are story reasons for why the characters sound the way they do, I just think the results themselves are awful.
The reason why I started the review with a quote from my mother was because it perfectly encapsulates how I feel about this movie. I didn’t hate it by any means, but it’s not the spectacular masterpiece that people are touting it as. Do I think you should see this film? Definitely. Hell, I’m going to watch it again, but I’m going to wait until I can get it at RedBox for a dollar. I suggest you do the same.
Us gets 6 golden Taylor’s out of 10