The Wilson family is pretty typical on the surface: we have the leader and mother of the family, Adelaide, cringey-comedic father Gabe, distracted, teenage daughter Zora and mask wearing little brother, Jason. But it’s Adelaide’s haunting childhood trauma, only known to her, that looms over them as they drive to their vacation home where her frightening encounter took place all those years ago. Adelaide’s cautious detachment from her family seems to be summed up by this one insurmountable childhood experience inside an isolated funhouse on the beach, leaving us to ruminate whether we’ve barely scratched the surface of her trauma.
And well, we don’t need to wonder for long. The Wilsons encounter a shadowed group of 4 holding hands at the top of the driveway at 11:11pm. The group remain frozen in place even as Gabe requests multiple times that they leave the property. And then, they suddenly move towards the house with urgency. But not just move. Each member’s movement seems inhuman and monstrous. Like they came from underground. But this isn’t just some home invasion scenario, we quickly notice that each member of this group is an evil twin inverse of each member of the Wilson family. Adelaide’s doppelganger, Red, is by far the creepiest and the only one of the group who can speak. Her voice creaks through raspy and strained as if she were pushing the words back down inside herself. From there, the family battles this “Tethered” family and others like them for the rest of the film and we get to learn more about Adelaide and Red’s harrowing backstories only made more convoluted by a twist ending and the ultimate showdown we expected.
Without going into more detail, by the end of the movie I was left with a ton of questions and some of the plot holes were hard to ignore, but overall I was into it and there were a number of scary scenes and gorgeous moments of cinematography. I think the third act hammered the audience with way too much information as though there was a hurry to pull everything together so the twist ending could shine. Peele’s ideas for this movie were extremely creative and asked its audience to engage in the social commentary he has become known for but the points he wants to make about Hands Across America, class issues or the idea that our fortune in life is greatly determined by the hands we’re dealt, (all good points by the way) become muddled if you aren’t paying attention.
My only other issue was the constant comedic breaks in situations that don’t call for it. To balance horror and comedy is hard to explain but the timing and tone have to work and there were just a ridiculous amount of moments that should have let the horror settle in and instead were broken up by an easy joke. Totally took me out of some of those moments that seemed like we were supposed to take seriously. And that confusion carried on, so much so that the audience was just laughing at everything after a while.
I definitely plan to watch Us again and loved that there were more horror elements involved than Get Out showed us. The callbacks to 80s horror favorites were especially fun. I also loved the look of the Tethered people, red outfits, gold scissors, fucked up smiling faces. All awesome. I’d still have to say Get Out wins over Us in pretty much every other category other than the fact that Us has Lupita Nyong'o and she needs to be in every Jordan Peele movie from here on out.
What did you think of Us? How does it stack up against Get Out? Let me know!