Tue | Jul 16, 2019

‘Us’ a Sophomore Success

Published:Monday | March 25, 2019 | 12:09 AMDamian Levy/Gleaner Writer
This image released by Universal Pictures shows (from left) Evan Alex, Lupita Nyong’o and Shahadi Wright Joseph in a scene from ‘Us’.

Horror has had its fair share of creatures – creatures from black lagoons, wolfmen, and men in masks. Each one is iconic in its own right, but the best ones give us some insight into how we view the world and, in some cases, ourselves. The latter is the primary terror for the Wilson family, whose countryside vacation comes to a violent end with some unlikely visitors. Themselves.

The film has, quite frankly, a mesmerising first act. The level of tension and intrigue crafted in these first few scenes is comparable to some of the best in the genre. Even in showing the Wilson family as happy as can be, there’s an ­inescapable sense of dread that follows them, executed with ­cinematography that feels instantly iconic and punctuated perfectly by Michael Abels’ profound score.

Still, all the atmosphere in the world is worth nothing without characters to care about. To that end, Us succeeds massively. Without delving into stereotype, the classic American family is one you grow to love in Us. Which makes it all the more terrible to watch them being chased by scissor-­wielding doppelgängers.

The family’s charm is matched only by the terror of the anta­gonists. The cast is pulling double duty in the film and gives us four different demons, each unsettling in its own way. Whether it’s the imposing ­monstrosity of Winston Duke’s ­physique or the frozen smile of Shahadi Wright, the end result is the same. Chills. Most of which come from Lupita Nyong’o, who, once again, proves she’s a gift to the craft.

The highs of Us are very high and do plenty to drive home its overall message. The film suggests, without being heavy-handed, that our own failings become our downfall. With the highs, though, there are lows. While Get Out was a slow burn, Us is more of a rapid fire, giving it a few pacing issues in a middling second act.

Us is a film that will no doubt stick with viewers after the curtains closes and will be the subject of much debate long after its release. It’s thought-provoking in the best way and succeeds to great lengths and fails with mere missteps.

Rating: Big-Screen Watch