Us is a remarkable, complex and truly terrifying film

The Wilson family doppelgängers, from left, Pluto (Evan Alex), Abraham (Winston Duke), Umbrae (Shahadi Wright Jospeh) and Red (Lupita Nyong’o) in Jordan Peele’s “Us.” Photo Credit: Claudette Barius © 2019 Universal Studios.

 

Vicky Sparks

Us is the kind of movie that scares you so deeply you begin to take a mental inventory of items in your home that could be used as a weapon should its plot ever come true.

Since the best I could come up with was a blunt paring knife from Ikea, my fingers are crossed the madness that is Us remains in the mind of writer and director Jordan Peele.

Our story begins in 1986 with a young girl at the beach with her parents for a birthday. She wanders off while dad is playing whack-a-mole and mom is in the washroom, and finds herself in a house of mirrors.

Inside, she sees something that traumatizes her and leads to a flash-forward to being diagnosed with PTSD by a psychologist.

We flash-forward to the present and the little girl is all grown up. Adelaide, played by Lupita Nyong’o is now a mother on vacation with her two children and husband (played by Black Panther co-star, Winston Duke).

On their first night in the beach house their son notices a family standing in their driveway. But this is no ordinary family. Dressed in deep red jump suits, wearing one glove and carrying gleaming gold scissors, the family in the driveway looks exactly like the family in the house.

Meet the tethered, underground dwelling doppelgängers who are coming to take their rightful place.

Revealing more of the plot would take away from the fun of the many twists and turns Peele delivers so successfully. This is a movie that works on countless levels. Plain old, fun and scary movie, deeply complex thesis on the state of the U.S., and everything in between.

Peele is adept at building tension and terror to the point you think you can’t take it anymore, and then breaking the tension with a joke. Then he starts to wind you up all over again.

As a viewer you’re trapped – terrified at what you’re seeing but unable to look away in case you miss something.

A huge part of that terror is created by Lupita Nyong’o in a performance that could net her award buzz next year.

She plays both Adelaide and Red (her tethered self) distinguishing the characters in such incredible ways you feel like you’re watching two different actors. Everything is different about them, from their breathing to their posture to the way they move and speak.

The rest of the family played by Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex are also superb and make the most of every double-acting opportunity.

This film will leave you breathless with questions and thinking about the many possible answers for days. But make no mistake, between the brilliant social commentary and career-making performances, this is a terrifying film.

Us was not made for the faint of heart or easily spooked – consider yourself warned.

 

Vicky Sparks is a Bright’s Grove native and movie critic for Global TV’s The Morning Show, which airs nationally on Fridays. Her Journal Reviews cover movies playing at Galaxy Cinemas Sarnia