Us (Jordan Peele, 2019): Review by Hollie Bareham

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I can’t remember when I first saw the trailer for ‘Us’ but from the moment I saw it I was excited to see the full movie. There’s nothing I love more than a horror movie and this looked promising. I’d also enjoyed Jordan Peele’s ‘Get Out’ and the whole psychological element, so I was pretty certain I’d enjoy this film too.

CAUTION: This review will contain spoilers.

Once the movie was released I booked me and my friend’s three tickets and before I knew it we were at the cinema ready to watch the movie. All three of us were looking forward to it and hoped it was good – generally horror movies are either amazing or rubbish and we were keen to see which category this film fit into.

When the credits rolled at the end my first thoughts were ‘… What did I just watch?’ It was one of those films that had the three of us talking the entire car ride home because we were all quite confused about what happened. When I got home the first thing I did was pour over the imdb page, Wikipedia page and any articles I could find that explained the plot. Although I’m more with it now I’m still not sure if I 100% understand it.

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Firstly, the film was amazingly done. The cinematography was on point and the acting was phenomenal, especially from Lupita Nyong’o – she played both her parts incredibly well, especially ‘Red’ who was super creepy. When the doppelganger family first enter the house and Red starts telling them a story her voice was really putting me on edge, it was excellent acting.

I love that this movie didn’t 100% rely on jump scares and managed to be creepy in its own way. The shots of all the tethered holding hands across the country was somehow super creepy and superbly done, it’s definitely something that will stick with me for a while. In fact just seeing the tethered go through their clumsy movements in the tunnels had me on edge. It wasn’t entirely ‘terrifying’ as there were some moments of comedy and I feel like these were executed well whilst still keeping the atmosphere.

What bothered me the most when initially watching it was the ending – it’s hard to explain for those who haven’t seen but we are shown that the doppelgangers are called the ‘tethered’ and they were a government experiment to see if US citizens could be controlled with a copied version of their bodies. When the experiment failed the tethered were abandoned underground having to copy the actions of the ‘real life’ versions of themselves – it’s implied these people don’t have a soul, any real emotions or much freewill. We’re sort of taken along this journey of the tethered deciding that it’s their turn now to live and they all come to the surface to kill the other version of themselves in order to replace them.

When Adelaide was a child she met her tethered (Red) and throughout the film Red mentions how she and the rest of the tethered grew up without sunlight and says something along the lines of “I wonder what would have happened if you’d taken me with you” to Adelaide. Except in the final moments of the film we find out Red was the original Adelaide – when they met, Adelaide knocked her out, took her down to the tethered and left her there so she could replace her. It was an interesting twist but unfortunately didn’t seem to fit in with anything we’d heard previously to that.

The thing I find confusing is that part of the deal with the tethered was that they were soulless and were forced to just awkwardly follow their counter-parts movements. Why was Red different? How were her and Adelaide able to meet? Surely once she’d been dragged down to the tethered she could’ve found her way back out – it didn’t seem that complicated and it’s not like the other tethered would’ve tried to stop her considering how lifeless they were. How did the tethered snap out of their copying regime to follow Red’s orders to go to the surface? Why did the government leave millions of people underground without destroying their creations when the experiment failed? It’s an amazing idea but I just don’t fully understand it.

It’s never really clear whether Adelaide or Red remember that they were swapped round until the end when it’s revealed to the audience. Surely they were more than old enough to have remembered and I assume Red must have because she retained her speech whereas none of the other tethered could talk. But neither of them mention it. I suppose the filmmakers wanted to save it until the end as a big reveal but it seemed to contradict everything they’d been talking about. For example it was Red that explained the tethered experiement to Adelaide – as a tethered she should’ve already known what they were and Red would’ve known that she knew.

They did throw in a few hints that Adelaide was a tethered (her savagery when killing other tethered for example), but I just don’t think it was executed as well as it could’ve been. It seemed a little bit thrown in at the end to add shock.

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Regardless of this I did enjoy the film. It held my interest from the start and kept me guessing right until the very end. It was certainly something new – my friend once told me we are living in a generation of remakes and sequels so to see something like this was so refreshing. I love the whole idea of it and wouldn’t mind another movie exploring it a bit more but I doubt that would happen – it could very well just ruin this film anyway.

Overall, this is definitely a film I’d recommend to any horror fans. Regardless of my confusion with the plot, which could probably be explained away, the film has left a lasting impression on me and I’m just really impressed. I’m looking forward to any future horror releases by Jordan Peele.

Time for my piece of trivia which I now include with all my horror movie reviews – Lupita Nyong’o based Red’s voice on Robert F. Kennedy Jr and specifically the spasmodic dysphonia he suffers from. There were quite a few pieces of interesting trivia on the iMDB page to be fair but I went with this one as Red’s voice really did put me on edge.

Feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts on the movie and if you haven’t already seen it then I definitely recommend it.

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