Us Blu-ray Review: A Stunning Second Effort by Jordan Peele

When comedy icon and new horror master Jordan Peele made his 2017 smash, Get Out, he created a new type of horror, a horror that reflects the social bleakness of the world we live in today, especially in terms of racism. With his fantastically scary 2019 follow-up, Us, he goes even deeper and darker to depict how we have totally lost our identities to excess and privilege. In this case, he gives us a glimpse of something far more sinister and personal underneath the false comfort we have subjected to.

The film starts in 1986, where young Adelaide ‘Addy’ Thomas (Madison Curry) wanders away from her parents at a Santa Cruz carnival, where she goes into a sort of funhouse of mirrors. She runs into a doppleganger of herself that leaves her traumatized for many years. In the present, Addy (now played by Lupita Nyong’o) is married to Gabe (Wilson Duke) and has two children, Zora and Jason (Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex), and they are vacationing in the same spot near where Addy had her scary encounter years ago. Typically, this causes some old wounds to come back, and she decides that she wants to leave. However, Gabe just tells her to loosen up and some fun. She reluctantly agrees. Later that night, her deepest fears come back to life as the family are invaded by four mysterious beings, dopplegangers of themselves, with the intent to kill. Addy has to put her hangups and deep-seated trauma to the side, as she, Gabe, Zora, and Jason fight for their lives in the ultimate bloody battle of good versus evil. But in this case, who is really good, and who’s really bad?

With this stunning second effort, Mr. Peele has tapped into a scenario that doesn’t really get told too often in film, especially horror. The way the film plays out, it seems that it could have been a nightmare that he thought would translate well onto the big screen. He was definitely right, because of the subtle and not-so-subtle reality of what we have been dealing with all this time: the falsity of humanity. He also has an amazing rapport with his actors, and gets terrific performances of them, especially Nyong’o. Her dual performance of Addy/Red (her imposter), may just be one of the most chilling characterizations that you will ever see in film, period. Throughout the film, you see the way she transforms from victim to survivor, and sometimes you’re not sure which is which. That’s how good she really is, and I think that’s the essence of what Peele was going for, in my opinion at least. Duke, Joseph, Alex, as well as Elisabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker turn in stellar supporting performances as well, especially as their creepy dopplegangers.

The special features consist of a series of worthwhile featurettes that you can play all or watch separately:

  • The Monsters Within Us: an interesting look at the four (or eight) main characters and the difficulties that the actors had portraying them.
  • Tethered Together: Making Us Twice: A great piece that tells the dual challenges of all four main actors, each playing their characters, as well as their dopplegangers.
  • Deleted Scenes: I Am Not Even Near You, Rabbit Season, That’s Badass, Driftwood, The P is Silent, and I Wanna Go Home.
  • Redefining a Genre: Jordan Peele’s Brand of Horror: a piece where the cast and crew, as well as Peele himself, talk about his love for horror, his favorite genre films, and the many homages to famous films he made throughout the film.
  • We’re All Dying: a few funny alternate lines/outtakes from Duke and Heidecker’s beachside moment.
  • As Above, So Below: Grand Pas de Deux– Addy and Red’s dance routine
  • Becoming Red: a behind the scenes piece of Nyong’o getting into her Red character, which is creepy and admiring at the same time.
  • The Duality of US: a piece where Peele discusses his ongoing fears of dopplegangers (or imposters) that can be manifestations of dark fantasies and desires that we all have.
  • Scene Explorations: Peele and a few of the cast go deeper into three pivotal scenes from the film: Seven Second Massacre, It’s a Trap, and I Just Want My Little Girl Back.

When you first put in the Blu-ray or DVD, you first have the option to watch the film, or previews of films coming soon or have already been released to home entertainment: Ma, The Best of Enemies, Inside Man: Most Wanted, Hotel Mumbai, and Greta.

I’m going to go out on limb here and say that I think Jordan Peele is on his way to becoming the new Wes Craven, or John Carpenter, or David Lynch, because you can tell that he is inspired by those great men of genre film. I can’t wait to see what he new tricks he has up his sleeve. He has opened up a whole new world, especially with African-American filmmakers and their own tales of horror.

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