Moderator / Reviewer
- Apr 4, 2017
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It’s kind of hard to imagine that Jordan Peele, co-star of the long standing sketch comedy show Key & Peele has become such a horror mogul these days. 2017’s Get Out was a fresh of breath air in the horror community, as he seemed to be channeling equal parts Wes Craven and Stephen King, so most people were enormously excited to see his sophomore attempt this year with the film US. While I LOOOOOVED Get Out I got turned away by everyone and their mother claiming how political and socially satirical the film was, claiming that it was even more so than Get Out. Now while I really loved Jordan’s first films, one of my biggest pet peeves is being beaten over the head with social commentary overtones. Especially ones that deal with race and social status, as many times they are used as blunt instruments, instead of finely tuned scalpels. By the time the Blu-ray/4K UHD release came to me this week I had heard every theory under the sun. It was about social injustice. It was about how America has to come to grips with its racist past. It’s about the evils of capitalism. It’s about how we as a society abuse those less fortunate than ourselves, and the list goes on and on. However, after finishing the movie I have to sit and scratch my head wondering WHY all of these theories were bandied about? Maybe I’m blind, but while there is some social metaphors bandied throughout the film, the movie seems to focus on the mental trauma of one person from a childhood PTSD moment, and the constant introspection about Jordan Peele’s latest effort seems overly sensationalized.
The year is 1986, and young Adelaide (Madison Curry) gets lost at an amusement park by the California beaches, where she meets a doppleganger of herself. 30 years later, Adelaide (now played by Lupita Nyong’o) is grown up and revisiting this same beach side home that she once visited as a child, this time as a parent with her husband Gabe (Winston Duke) and their children Zora (Shahadi Wright Johnson) and Jason (Evan Alex). Feeling a bit uneasy, Adelaide pushes those thoughts from her head as best she can, until suddenly she and her family are beset upon a family of dopplegangers. Each one looking like a member of the family.
The new “family” of clones introduces themselves as the “tethers”, beings that somehow share the same soul as the original person, but without the luxuries and pleasantries of growing up in the human world. Now is the “untethering”, as Adelaide’s now grown up doppgleganger tells her before trying to murder the poor woman. Running as best they can, Adelaide and her family soon find out that this phenomenon isn’t localized to themselves as clones of people around them are popping up everywhere. Desperate and afraid, the family is forced to face off against an army of soulless copies, each one who knows their every move, and whose only delight is tearing apart the bond that links them to each other.
It’s creepy, it’s disturbing, it’s not nearly as good as Get Out, but US is a solid horror film that has an incredible amount Easter egg homages (The same boardwalk as The Lost Boys, overhead shots as in The Shining, hints of A Nightmare on Elm Street) litter the landscape, but Jordan Peele doesn’t ever feel like he’s COPYING these masters. Instead it feels completely unique and those homages are more nods than they are rip-offs. However, there is a flaw running through the whole thing that it took me until the second watching to really grasp. It’s the scope of the movie. The film opens up with the dopplegangers answering the question of “who are you?” with “We’re Americans!”. From what I can glean from interviews with Jordan Peele, this theme was supposed to show how America has a dark underbelly (which we do, no one will deny that we have some skeletons in our closet), but throughout the film that theme is never expounded upon. Instead Peele seems to get overwhelmed with the elasticity of his own metaphors, piling one on top of each other until even he can’t keep up with them all. I caught a ton of different ones (covering up our past, the evil in the closet being ourselves, etc etc), but the lack of keeping with one or two main metaphors throughout the film really hampered the film from being as great as Get Out was. The movie is definitely good, and Jordan is probably the visually delightful horror director of recent times, but his scripting for US was a roadblock for him, and hopefully one he can overcome for his next outing.
Rated R for violence/terror, and language.
4K Video: Video:
There is also a very obvious uptick to clarity from the Blu-ray, with facial details and the background imagery showing noticeably better textures. The water itself where Gabe and his doppleganger fight shows more nuances in the waves and little textures of said water, and the blood along his face is richer and deeper thanks to the use of HDR. While the 4K UHD may not blow the already excellent Blu-ray out of the water, it most certainly is a welcome step above the 1080p version.
- Seven Second Massacre
- It's a Trap
- I Just Want My Little Girl Back• The Duality of US – Jordan Peele goes in-depth on some of the key themes and imagery in US– including Doppelgängers, Hands Across America, The Nutcracker dance scene, rabbits and the infamous 11:11 coincidence.
• The Monsters Within US – Examine how the great cast were able to find their characters, whether they were playing one of the Wilsons or their sinister doppelgängers.
• Tethered Together: Making US Twice – Making of a movie is hard. Making a movie where all the main cast play dual roles can be downright mind-bending. In this piece, filmmakers, cast, and crew discuss some of the technical challenges to making the film, as well as some of the design choices for the characters.
• Redefining a Genre: Jordan Peele's Brand of Horror – In the space of two films, Jordan Peele has set himself apart as an invaluable artistic voice. Hear cast and filmmakers highlight what makes him so unique, as well as Jordan's own thoughts on his inspirations and the relationship between horror and comedy.
• Becoming Red – Using behind-the-scenes footage from between takes, we take a closer look at Lupita Nyong'o's intense and mesmerizing performance as "Red."
• Deleted Scenes
- I Am Not Even Near You
- Rabbit Season
- That's Bad@ss
- The P is Silent
- I Wanna Go Home• We're All Dying – Hilarious outtakes from the conversation between Winston Duke and Tim Heidecker on the beach.
• As Above, So Below: Grand Pas de Deux – An extended version of the dance sequence from the film, cutting between adolescent Adelaide at her recital to Red in the Underpass.
US is a decidedly fun second outing for director Jordan Peele (still have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that this is the Peele from Key & Peele), and is a solid entry into the horror universe. The elasticity of the metaphors that Peele winds throughout the whole film is both it’s biggest strength and largest weakness, as Peele has a hard time reconciling and keeping up with them. My personal interpretation is more in line with Adelaide dealing with mental trauma and the film acting as a mirror for what PTSD does to a person, but due to the ambiguous nature of many of the scenes, others may get something completely different out of the movie. Universal’s 4K UHD disc is great, with the same amazing audio track from the Blu-ray as well as a nice looking 2160p encode. Combine that with some ample extras and the film is well worth checking out as a VERY creepy watch.
Starring: Winston Duke, Lupita Nyong'o, Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex, Anna Diop, Cali Sheldon
Directed by: Jordan Peele
Written by: Jordan Peele
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 HEVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core), French, Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 7.1, English DVS
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Runtime: 116 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: June 18th, 2019
Recommendation: Creepy Watch