*** WARNING: MILD SPOILERS BELOW***
The best way to approach Us is with an open mind. If you’re expecting to see Get Out 2 you’ll be sorely disappointed. While Us has moments of humor, it feels like Get Out’s meaner and more sinister cousin. And while Get Out was couched in a lot of humor and an alternate ending to soften the blow of its message, Us is the horror movie that Americans deserve right now.
Us opens in the 1980s in Santa Cruz California. We see a black family at a boardwalk carnival enjoying a night out. Eventually, the young daughter of the family wanders away and heads into a mysterious - and of course, creepy - funhouse on the beach. There she has the terrifying experience of encountering a little girl who looks exactly like her. After the traumatic incident her parents take her to see a therapist in an effort to start the healing process, and get her to talk more about what happened.
The action then jumps forward in time to the modern day, zeroing on the Wilson family. The young girl is now a mother with her own two kids, and the family has arrived at her childhood home for a vacation. While there, they head back to the same beach, which understandably gives the mother anxiety. After an incident in which her young son wanders off and disappears in the same way that she did, the family heads back home. It’s here that something odd happens – another family, exact physical duplicates of The Wilson family, show up in their driveway and eventually enter their home. The Wilson family is forced to fight for their lives.
Just as in Get Out, Peele offers up his message in layers that require pulling apart, but ultimately Us struck me as a film about our shadow side; the side that doesn’t represent our highest self. They are the sides who’s stock in trade is fear, hate, and greed. They are the ugly sides of ourselves that we’ve seen emerge in Trump’s America. It’s no mistake that the shadow people wear red jumpsuits. It’s also no mistake that the film is entitled Us, a play on both the self and an abbreviation of United States. In fact, when one of the Wilson’s asks a shadow person what they are, their response is: “We’re Americans.”
Just as with Get Out there’s a lot to chew on in Us - maybe even more so. It’s certainly a more antagonistic and hostile feeling film then Get Out. The ugliness of America’s current state is on full display, and no one escapes Peele’s critical eye.
While I didn’t have quite as much fun seeing this as I did seeing Get Out, in many ways Us packed more of a punch. Sometimes we need to take away the humorous buffer keeping us safe, and see the ugliness of who we are and who we can become in a much more naked way. Us makes a more powerful statement than Get Out, because it’s not afraid to dig into the sore places and expose them for what they are.
Us warrants a more lengthy unraveling than what I’ve given it here, which I hope to eventually get around to doing after a second viewing. But I highly recommend seeing the film. Just expect to feel a little bruised by the end.