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Jordan Peele is about to embark on a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. He’s going to relaunch The Twilight Zone as a network television series, opening up new worlds of mystery and suspense. Well, his latest movie Us proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he’s the ideal storyteller to carry that baton for a new generation, spinning yarns that stimulate and devastate, while also making you think and talk about difficult subjects after the fact.
The eyes of the film community were on Austin, Texas last night as Jordan Peele’s highly anticipated follow up to Get Out opened the 2019 South By Southwest Film Festival. And it’s ironic that Us debuts at a festival named after a seminal Alfred Hitchcock work, because Peele is slowly making a claim as this generation’s Hitchcock. His command of the genre and his material is that strong, after only two films.
There’s a lot about Us I can’t reveal, for fear of deflating some of the movie’s best reveals. But if you watched the trailers and the commercials, you likely know this much. A family on vacation encounters shadow versions of themselves in the dead of night. But even that surface logline strips away a lot of the nuance of why this innocent family is being targeted. And how they put themselves in that situation in the first place.
The answers to those queries are the meat of Jordan Peele’s mystery, and that won’t be explored here. What we can discuss is the tone and approach to Us, which is far deeper into the straight-up horror genre than Get Out was. Peele’s previous Oscar winner (for Screenplay) had more, social commentary than scares, while Us coats its relevant talking points (and there are plenty) with splatters of blood.
The cast assembled by Peele revel in playing mirror images of themselves, with the normal Wilson family haunted by demented versions of themselves. And while every cast member finds ways to differentiate between the seemingly normal Wilson member and their deranged counterpart, it’s Lupita Nyong’o who steals the spotlight for her fascinating performance on both sides of the reflections of her character, Adelaide Wilson.
Though the South By Southwest Film Festival is just now getting off to its first starts, I can tell you that Us has been a movie virtually everyone has been talking about, questioning things that they saw on screen – what IS the deal with those rabbits?! – and figuring out answers that aren’t readily available until a repeat screening. I can tell you, with 100% certainty, that Us will be a different movie the second time that you watch it. And you will watch it, again and again.