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By midlandsmovies, Jul 22 2019 09:58AM



Us (2019) Dir. Jordan Peele


After the amazing success of 2017 horror Get Out (our review here) director Jordan Peele returns with another fright flick that goes deep below the surface of American society. We open on Santa Cruz beach front where a young girl, Adelaide Thomas, enters a hall of mirror funhouse and discovers her doppelganger before returning to her family unable to speak.


Long since recovered we catch up with the adult Adelaide (Lupita Nyong'o) and her husband Gabe (Winston Duke) and their children Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Zora (Evan Alex). Despite her worries the family heads back to the beach where she encounters their rich friends and becomes scared after her son briefly disappears.


Returning home that night, a family of four in red overalls break in and the family realise these intruders are in fact doppelgängers called the Tethered. Director Peele throws in some solid character building at the beginning, filling his film with mysteries and concepts to be ‘untethered’ before the explosive home-invasion sequences kick in. Is it scary? Not really. For me, Get Out is the superior “horror” film, making me feel unease and dread whilst here the first-half jump scares and silly scissor slashing was more reminiscent of 80s video nasties that have never really done much for me.


However, Lupita Nyong'o is brilliant as a protective parent, the paranoid mother AND as a vulnerable victim dealing with her dual past and present. And duality is a strong theme throughout as is the notion of “class”. The literal ‘lower’ class below ground become a danger to the happy lives above and Peele uses dialogue, props, symbolism and thematic sequences to delve into the deeper and darker side of “America” today.


A great use of Luniz’s “5 on It” becomes slower and more orchestral (and therefore creepier) as the movie progresses and the cast excel in their physical portrayal of their ‘other’ selves. Mixing slasher and home-invasion tropes with a Twilight Zone episode, Us is another frightful look at the current politics and issues facing the United States/U.S./‘Us’.


And Peele’s masterful handling of a wide range of deeper meanings, along with a love for horror staples, sees Us continuing his spectacular cinema successes.


★★★★


Michael Sales

By midlandsmovies, Apr 26 2017 12:54PM



Get Out (2017) Dir. Jordan Peele


Known for his US comedy partnership work with Keegan-Michael Key which culminated in 2016’s cat-based comedy Keanu, Jordan Peele takes the brave step of tackling a (mostly) serious horror set-up infused with a dollop of satire in Get Out, his first feature film.


Black man Chris Washington (British actor Daniel Kaluuya) and his white girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) pay a visit to the rural home of her neurosurgeon dad and psychiatrist mum and amongst all the obvious awkwardness, Chris begins to feel that all in not right in the large home. The house and ground keepers (both who are also black) exhibit strange zombie-like behaviour before Chris, who’s trying to give up smoking, agrees to a quick hypno-session with Rose’s mum.


At an annual garden get together, the flashing of Chris’ camera “awakens” another black guest – which is chalked up as a seizure – but confirms to Chris that something is definitely not ok here.


An absolutely assured debut, Peele has an instinctive directorial eye with plenty of gorgeous shots with a point of focus balance that Kubrick would be proud of. Alongside this he creates characters that are likeable with their everyday routines establishing them quickly and then contrasting those with the bonkers and bizarre behaviour at the house.


Similar to Karyn Kusama's The Invitation, the audience’s first question is why have we been brought here and what do these people want. Alongside that, a suitable sense of dread is created, not with any jump cuts (although there are a couple) but with an interesting narrative, story development and unsettling atmosphere.


Who would have thought such basics would really appeal to cinema fans? Eh, Hollywood?


Peele keeps it simple and the film is all the better for it and all the characters are played well be a cast of diverse actors. Special kudos to Kaluuya, who I know only from the British comedy series Psychoville, but he maintains a consistent American accent and helps hold the whole film together, without ever falling into horror-cliché territory.


8/10


Midlands Movies Mike


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