The 'we' of Us by Jordan Peele

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Last week the new film by the director of Get Out was released. These are our impressions

The 'we' of Us by Jordan Peele

Two years ago Jordan Peele surprised us with his directorial debut with Get Out. The film, which was about a white woman who took her black boyfriend to meet her family, surprised by its comic and absurd tone at the time it was a horror movie. Peele won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for the story he wrote for Get Out . It was to be expected, then, that the expectation about his new film would be very high. This time he presents Us, which tells the story of a family that goes on vacation to their country home and is invaded by another family like them, terrifying doubles that are bent on torturing them for some reason they fail understand.

Leer en español: El 'nosotros' de Us, la película de Jordan Peele

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What is it about?

As a child, Adelaide Wilson gets lost in a summer fair on the beach and enters a house of mirrors where we know something has happened that will traumatize her for life. Years later, an adult Adelaide, masterfully interpreted by Lupita Nyong'o, travels with her family to her beach recreational home. There, she is attacked by memories of that night of her childhood lost in the house of mirrors. That same night she and her family are attacked by a double family, monstrous beings equal to them who want to torture and kill them. They will have to fight for their lives and kill the impostors before they kill them.

As a horror movie, Us is great. It has enough scary moments and blood. The doubles are very well interpreted and produce real fear. Lupita Nyong'o and Elizabeth Moss stand out in their killer performances: their two characters and their respective doubles are the ones who frighten the most. The film is also successful in its use of horror movie codes. Although in Get Out Peele had given us to try something of this (the deer that is crossed in the middle of the road, the nightmares that are not known if they are dream or reality), in Us the terror films references reach its maximum point. The twins, the scissors, the ominous figure of the double, the detuned strings, the home invasion, etc., they are elements that the film exploits to the maximum conscious that they are common places. It is a film that asks about how to make horror films and that explores the elements with which previous directors and films have scared us and even makes fun of them.

Paradoxically, Us is a movie with an excellent sense of humor. Before making terror, Jordan Peele made comedy and this can be seen in Us. There are jokes about being an African-American family going on vacation to the beach with a white family, jokes about marriage, about hating children, about not getting tired of them from time to time. Even in its most terrifying parts, Us is a funny movie. In the end, the result was a parody of the American family.

The twisted end (spoiler!)

When the family asks the invaders what they want, they answer with a story. The story of themselves. We learn, then, that there is an underground world of double beings condemned to do the same thing that beings do on the surface but in the sewers. They have come to take revenge, to take the surface. When asked who they are, they respond "we are Americans." At first, the meaning of Us seems obvious: their worst enemy is themselves. "They're us," says the child of the family when he sees the invaders face to face. It also seems obvious the metaphor of oppression: there are families, the same as those on the surface, forgotten and condemned to live a meaningless life, to be puppets of the inhabitants of the surface without them knowing that they lead a privileged life nor that there are other beings equal to them who lead a life of suffering deprived of language and happiness.

However, in the end the film, the problem gets more complicated. We learned what happened that night of Adelaide's childhood: she would had met her double in the house of mirrors and they had exchange their places. The Adelaide we had always seen, then, was really the imposter. In the end, the kind of revolution that the beings of the underworld wanted to held was led by an Adelaide who wanted to recover her position on the surface and the mother we had seen defending her family was in reality a traitor of her kind. When it's over, the movie leaves us with a distaste in our mouth, a confusion about which side we should be on.

Although entertaining and terrifying, Us does not reach the level of Get Out in terms of history and narrative. Although it is complex and at times it mocks the problem of oppression and revolution, it does not extend in the development of the story. In Get Out there is a mystery, a discomfort that is resolved over time. The clues of the enigma are subtle. In Us there are two monologues in which we are explained what happens. Both boring and not so telling.

Us gets good shouts out of us and in that it is successful. I think Peele's thoughts overflow the movie and do not let us see what he means. It is a little eloquent film that wants to cover more than it can and still it is excellent. It is terrifying and funny.

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LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Rodriguez

Translated from "El 'nosotros' de US de Jordan Peele"