Few filmmakers have had as successful debuts as Jordan Peele. The former star of sketch comedy show Key and Peele announced himself as a director to watch with his 2017 debut Get Out, which earned an Academy Award, enjoyed a very profitable box office, was critically beloved, and became part of the cultural zeitgeist. Naturally expectations are high for Jordan Peele’s follow-up, the horror film Us.
Us opens in theaters on Friday and the reviews for the film are now in. So is this a sophomore slump, or does Jordan Peele go 2 for 2 and prove that Get Out was no fluke? Fortunately, it looks to be clearly the latter. The reviews for Us are almost universally positive, with CinemaBlend's own Dirk Libbey giving it 4.5 out of 5 stars. According to Dirk's review:
With Us, Jordan Peele proves that he is, without question, one of the most talented directors and creative writers working in Hollywood today. Us is everything you hoped, and everything you were afraid, it would be.
That is some high praise for both Jordan Peele and Us and Dirk is not alone in his feelings. The Wrap’s Yolanda Machado believes that Us will have real staying power in the genre. She said:
Peele’s sophomore effort is the type of genre film that will merit re-examination every few years, and it has the potential to stand among his greatest contributions to genre filmmaking.
One of the film’s stars Winston Duke has expressed the belief that you need to see Us more than once to get the full scope of an understand everything that it is doing and the reviews seem to echo that. The reviews also praise Us as a true horror film unlike Get Out, which was more ambiguous in genre. Us does horror and does it well, as The Verge’s Tasha Robinson indicated in her review:
Peele directs Us with a masterful collection of horror-movie tricks — jump scares that actually pay off, a cat-and-mouse game in an isolated place filled with bright lights and deep pools of impenetrable shadow.
Jordan Peele said he wanted to make a true horror movie this time around, and that definitely seems to be the case. Beyond just being a great horror film, one of the common threads in the reviews is the impeccable level of craft that went in to Us. In his review, IGN’s David Griffin expressed how the formal elements of Us distinguished it from its contemporaries:
The impactful use of music and dazzling cinematography elevates Us above your average horror-thriller. Peele has created another marvelous new American horror story.
For some, the story that Jordan Peele is telling is too unwieldy, failing to match the excellence of craft on display. This was the case for The A.V. Club’s Randall Colburn, who still gave Us a positive “B” review, but expressed his complaints saying:
Us is something of a frustrating watch, a visual and technical marvel that just doesn’t seem to know what it is. Unlike Get Out, which only swelled in impact as you left the theater, Us is best viewed on a visceral level, not an intellectual one.
While steering far clear of spoilers, it seems that while Us is clearly a horror film, Jordan Peele once again has something to say, but that message is more difficult to discern upon first viewing this time around. For some reviewers, that challenging nature mixed with a killer horror movie, makes for a rewarding experience. IndieWire’s Eric Kohn said about the film he gave an “A-“:
It unfolds as a satisfying dose of relentless, anxiety-inducing survival antics designed to keep viewers perpetually uneasy, and moves so quickly that they can only consider the deeper undercurrents after the credits roll.
Something tells me this film will have a lot of people talking come Monday morning. Beyond the plot and attempts to suss out the film’s mysteries and meaning, much of that discussion may surround Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o, who is, as you might imagine, brilliant. Justin Chang said as much in his review for the Los Angeles Times:
The movie belongs rightly and effortlessly to Nyong’o, and she sustains every moment by distilling innumerable emotional layers… There isn’t a moment when she doesn’t have Us in her grip.
Based on these reviews and a nearly perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes, it is clear that Jordan Peele has delivered with Us. Sure, I think most of us expected that would be the case, but I’ll take predictable brilliance over surprising disappointment any day.
Us opens in theaters on March 22. Check out our 2019 Release Schedule to keep track of all the other big movies headed to theaters this year.