Writer and director Jordan Peele's follow up to his 2017 directorial debut – the brilliant thriller Get Out– proves without a doubt that he is a master filmmaker. His new horror film, Us, mixes social commentary and almost unbearable suspense with ease.
A suburban African-American family of four are on a vacation at their beach house, and one night they see exact doubles of themselves standing outside in their driveway. These zombie-like doubles are all dressed in red jumpsuits, carry sharp, large scissors, and either barely speak or just squeal or grunt. The key to these strangers is with the mom, Adelaide (Lupita Nyong'o in a staggering performance), and a terrifying childhood encounter in a beach funhouse. Most pressing, though, is that the doubles aren't friendly.
Peele fills the slow-burn setup with an air of dread, and once the strangers appear in the driveway, the tension never lets up. A scene in a boat on the lake with the father, Gabe (Winston Duke), as he battles his double is a model of how to do a suspenseful action scene well.
The best horror movies can juggle terror with sharp social commentary. George A. Romero's classic Dawn of the Dead (1978) balances bloody good zombie action with thoughts on American consumerism. Besides making your heart race for two-hours, Us ponders themes of social class, identity and the existence of the soul. Yeah, it's heavy stuff, but Peele injects his movie with lots of wicked humor, much of it coming from Duke's character and the things he says.
Us is an intelligent and masterful nightmare but, be warned, it is quite gory at times.