Daniel Giorello | Staff Writer
The Horror genre has benefitted from something akin to a Renaissance in recent years; after James Wan’s seminal Conjuring films, more directors have challenged themselves to explore how this category of film can be reserved for more than just cheap jump scares. Enter Jordan Peele with both Get Out and Us, the latter of which succeeds the former on nearly every level thanks to an engrossing narrative and atmosphere that only grows in tension and suspense.
To be clear, Us isn’t a film that could be labeled as “scary”: it’s certainly unsettling, capable of evoking a raw tension that hovers over a majority of the movie. But jump scares, if present, are used sparingly. The film is less concerned with frightening the viewer and more interested in encouraging them to ask questions. What you’ve seen in trailers is the tip of the iceberg, and the more twists that the film introduces, the better it becomes. While I’m hesitant to give away too much since Us enjoys constantly changing what you think it’s about, I can confirm that it only increases in intensity until the film’s gut-punch of a conclusion that wraps everything full-circle.
There’s not much that I need to unpack in terms of what could be improved; there’s always something a film can improve on, and on occasion Us does lean a little too far into its influences, e.g. characters make perplexing decisions that clearly threaten their safety or a specific plot point draws itself out longer than it should. But they’re minor gripes in the face of what’s on offer, which is a set of increasingly nerve-racking, interconnected scenarios that build off of each other for a excellent finale.
If Us tells us anything about its creator, it is that Peele has honed his craft as a storyteller and best of all, can bring those stories to life on screen in a way that few writer-directors have managed to accomplish so successfully. It’s a must-see for horror fans and anyone who thinks I’m trustworthy enough to justify a rating of 9 out of 10 pinecones. Do yourself a favor and allow Peele to show off a visceral and groundbreaking addition to a genre that’s learning how to stand head and shoulder again with prestige dramas and jaw-dropping action films.