Us Review: Lupita Nyong’o shines in latest Jordan Peele masterpiece


If Get Out signaled Jordan Peele as the next great horror filmmaker, Us is a showcase – a resounding mic drop – that suggests the director has already arrived and claimed the keys to the kingdom.

Us follows Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o) and her family — husband Gabe (Winston Duke) and their children, Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex) — as they vacation at their summer home, where Adelaide suffered a traumatic experience as a child.

Shortly after they arrive, strange coincidences begin to occur, leading Adelaide into a full-fledged panic that the haunting event of her childhood will soon manifest itself again. When her instinct becomes reality, the Wilsons are forced to fight for survival against the perfect enemy: doppelganger versions of themselves.

There’s so much to unpack here, so many themes to try to process (and references!), that it’s almost impossible to review Us after only a single viewing. That alone is a testament to Peele, who has layered his film with such potent political subtext that his genius is undeniable. Peele is a filmmaker with his finger on the pulse of society, and his latest horror flick is an exhibition of the United States from his perspective.

Us–Courtesy of Blumhouse Productions, Monkeypaw Productions and Universal Pictures

The story itself is relatively straightforward and can certainly be enjoyed without digging for a deeper meaning, but if you’re the type of cinema fan who brings a shovel to every screening, Us offers infinite rewards. There are bound to be dozens of interpretations now that the film has gone wide with its release, and perhaps each of them will be correct. This isn’t a clean-cut, one-trick type of horror film. Peele has a lot to say, and it’s all in there, waiting to be discovered.

Like Get Out, there is some humor scattered throughout Us (Winston Duke shines as a goofy, typical dad), but this is much more of a traditional horror film than Peele’s previous effort. That is *not* me saying that Get Out isn’t a horror film, just simply Us ramps up the scares and places them front and center more often. There are sequences of terror throughout that are so well-directed and performed that they’ll be analyzed for years to come.

One death sequence, in particular, is poised to go down as one of the all-time great horror scenes. It features two carefully selected songs — one as a comedic contrast to the violence, and another that taps into subtext — and it’s just so wonderful that you can’t help but smile at the masterful skill and vision on display.

More from Jordan Peele

The mastery of Peele, however, is matched in full by Lupita Nyong’o in a riveting dual role. She’s fantastic as protective mother Adelaide, who has a very specific reason to be afraid but who harnesses that fear as motivation for survival.

It’s in the contrasting alternate role as her doppelganger, though, that Nyong’o flexes her powerhouse performance. She’s virtually unrecognizable, from her appearance to her mannerisms and voice. Seeing her act off of herself as two vastly different personalities inside of what is essentially the same person is a luxury we don’t deserve. The Academy Awards are notorious for overlooking horror performances (Toni Collette, Hereditary), but Nyong’o is walking home a two-time Oscar winner next year. Mark my words.

It’s her standout performance that truly owns the film, but it isn’t the only great work on display throughout Us. As mentioned, Winston Duke is perfect and fun as Gabe, but the kids, Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex, are dynamite as well. Joseph, especially, is a name to watch out for. Zora is quite the badass in the film, and the young actress could be a fan favorite.

It takes a special kind of filmmaker to make this much of an impression on society and the world of film with only two movies under their belt, but Jordan Peele is up to the task. Thematically rich, loaded with references and featuring one of the greatest horror performances of all time from Lupita Nyong’o, Us is an undeniable masterpiece that demands to be seen.

Us is now playing, only in theaters.

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Fan of Jordan Peele? Seeing Us this weekend? Let the rest of the demented doppelgängers know what you think in the comment section below.