This article contains spoilers.
“Us,” Jordan Peele’s heavily anticipated sophomore feature, is a mind-bending twist on the evil twin concept that is more thrilling than terrifying. Ripe with Peele’s sardonic humor to ease the tension, the majority of the jump scares and truly horrifying moments are revealed in the film’s trailer.
Similar to Peele’s debut, “Get Out,” “Us” is more social commentary than horror film. While “Get Out,” was a satire on race in America, “Us” tackles income inequality by examining the concept of being born into wealth versus poverty.
Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex star as both an upper class family and their evil doubles. While on vacation in Santa Cruz, Nyong'o is reminded of an incident with a lookalike as a child on the Santa Cruz beach boardwalk. Against her better wishes, her husband takes the family to the Santa Cruz coast and chaos occurs once their evil doubles follow them to their villa.
The entire cast is fantastic, particularly Nyong'o in her multifaceted roles as both mother and villian. Elizabeth Moss also shines as an annoying, rich white friend of the family. Although the film doesn’t focus on race, interactions with Moss’ haughty family allude to the intersection between whiteness and privilege. When Moss asks her smart-speaker to call the police, the song “Fuck the Police” plays instead as she is brutally killed by her double. In the traumatic world of “Us,” no one can save anyone except themselves. But, the same could be said about real life society.
Michael Abel’s brillant, bone-chilling soundtrack is a perfect metaphor for the film itself. A mix of classical, African, opera, hip-hop and Psycho-esque violins, “Us” is a social commentary and horror film for the modern age. Jump scares are too predictable in a world of countless scary movies and television shows, so Peele updates the genre by injecting meaning. With income inequality broadening the gap between rich and poor across the nation, the evil doubles represent the main family if they were impoverished.
Peele is clearly a perfectionist and a horror movie lover. “Us” is ripe with easter eggs, from the opening sequence of rabbits in cages to the lyric “Fuck the police coming straight from the underground” as Moss and her family are bludgeoned to a pulp. Many critics are calling Peele the next Hitchcock, but he’s more than a master of suspense. He’s a master of the genre mashup.