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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

Us the movie is a terrific, meta frightmare, says Rashid Irani

A young family on holiday finds themselves facing four demonic strangers who look exactly like them. This psychological horror-thriller will haunts you long after it’s over.

movie-reviews Updated: Mar 29, 2019 18:43 IST
Rashid Irani
Rashid Irani
Hindustan Times
Audiences expecting familiar jump-scares will soon realise they have wandered into the wrong film. Writer-director Jordan Peele depends instead on a mood-drenched atmosphere and a subtle use of screen space.
Audiences expecting familiar jump-scares will soon realise they have wandered into the wrong film. Writer-director Jordan Peele depends instead on a mood-drenched atmosphere and a subtle use of screen space.
         
US
  • Direction: Jordan Peele
  • Actors: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke
  • Rating: 4.5 / 5

Us consolidates Jordan Peele’s reputation as one of the more exciting American filmmakers of our time. This is his second fiction feature — the first was the Oscar-winning Get Out (2017), which was, inexplicably, never released here.

With Us, the writer-director has crafted another attention-grabbing frightener, a film permeated by a sense of dread not often experienced in the horror genre.

We are introduced to the protagonist, Adelaide, as a young girl (newcomer Madison Curry) in an unsettling prologue set in 1986. Accidentally venturing into the hall of mirrors at a local amusement park, she encounters a little girl who looks exactly like her.

Alternately maternal and monstrous, Lupita Nyong’o delivers a tour-de-force performance.
Alternately maternal and monstrous, Lupita Nyong’o delivers a tour-de-force performance.

Cut to the present day. Now grown-up and a parent herself, Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o), her husband (Winston Duke) and their two children head to their beachside house for a holiday. The vacation quickly descends into chaos with the arrival of four scissor-wielding strangers in their driveway. It turns out they’re demonic doppelgangers.

A desperate struggle for survival ensues, but the family’s worst enemies turn out to be within themselves. Or, as director Peele succinctly put it, ‘The evil is us’. Indeed, the title also cleverly alludes to the US.

Audiences anticipating familiar jump-scares will soon realise they have wandered into the wrong film. Rather, the director depends on a mood-drenched atmosphere — you’ll know what I mean when you see the rabbits — as well as a subtle use of screen space and an ominous soundscape to generate edge-of-the-seat thrills.

Alternately maternal and monstrous, Nyong’o delivers a tour-de-force performance. Us is a film of harrowing intensity that will haunt you long after it’s over. 

First Published: Mar 29, 2019 18:43 IST