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Review: With ‘Us,’ Jordan Peele Offers Up His Twisted Take on ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’

March 22, 2019Ben MK

In Invasion of the Body Snatchers, ordinary people found themselves under siege by doppelgängers that looked and sounded exactly like them. Now, with his sophomore feature Us, writer/director Jordan Peele updates the concept — with results that are guaranteed to make your skin crawl.

The highly anticipated followup to Peele's Oscar-winning Get Out, Us follows a family of four whose idyllic summer vacation is interrupted by bloodshed and chaos. In it, Lupita Nyong'o and Winston Duke play Adelaide and Gabe Wilson, who embark on a road trip to Santa Cruz, California with their two kids, Zora and Jason (Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex). Unbeknownst to Gabe, Zora and Jason, however, Adelaide had a traumatic encounter at the beach there some three decades earlier — and to this day she's still haunted by the terrifying experience.

Despite her anxiety and trepidation, though, Adelaide agrees to accompany her family to Santa Cruz Beach, the very spot she's been trying so hard to run away from for so many years. And while things start off pleasantly enough, it doesn't take long for her worst fears to be realized, as she and her family's summer home is descended upon by four strangers that very night — four strangers that look exactly like them, dressed in crimson jumpsuits and armed with scissors. But what do these homicidal duplicates want? And where did they come from?

Peele teases the answer early on, prefacing the film with some ominous pretext concerning the endless miles of forgotten tunnel work that lies beneath the continental United States. But for the most part, he plays his cards rather close to the chest, keeping the narrative exposition to a minimum and saving the biggest plot revelation for the end, where he drops a bombshell twist that will cause viewers to reevaluate everything they've seen up until that point.

That said, what makes Us so disturbing and so genuinely effective as a horror movie isn't so much the story, but rather the methodical manner in which it unfolds. Suffice to say, what Peele has crafted here may be light on actual plot, but it nonetheless follows ably in the footsteps of Get Out as another prime example of the artistry that's sorely absent from the majority of mainstream genre films.

Bolstered by memorable performances from the cast (Nyong'o and Duke, in particular), the result is as accomplished as horror movies get. Whereas its predecessor may have caught general audiences off guard with its timely social commentary, Us is a perfect showcase for Peele's growing confidence and skill as a filmmaker — a twisted tale infused with nightmare imagery that burrows deep into your psyche and stays with you long after the screen fades to black.

Us releases March 22nd, 2019 from Universal Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of R for violence/terror, and language. Its runtime is 1 hr. 56 min.

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