Jordan Peele’s smash hit Us solidified the director as a thrilling and unique voice in cinema. A richly layered work, Us is a film that demands to be watched multiple times. Thankfully fans will have the opportunity to dig into the film again as it arrives on Blu-ray today courtesy of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.
Exploring the horrific ramifications of privilege, Us is a chilling look at the thin line between those who have and those who don’t. A line where one’s affluent lifestyle often means that someone else suffers as a result. At its core is Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o), a mother who literally comes face to face with her darker side, in the form of red jumpsuit wearing doppelgänger aptly name Red. When she was a little girl, Adelaide wandered away from her constantly bickering parents while visiting a beach side amusement park in Santa Cruz. Getting lost in a house of mirrors, she stumbled across another little girl who looks identical to her. The experience was so traumatizing that she never spoke a word of it to anyone.
Now grown and headed back to Santa Cruz for a family vacation with her husband Gabe (Winston Duke) and their children Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex), Adelaide’s anxiety is at a fever pitch. Unable to shake the feeling that something is coming for her, these inklings are confirmed one night when Red, and three other beings who look identical to Adelaide’s family, appear on the driveway of the Wilson’s beach home.
Claiming to be tethered to Adelaide and her family, and thus enduring the painful flipside to Adelaide’s joyous experiences, Red and the rest of the “shadows” are determined to get rid of their prosperous others and finally have their moment in the sun.
Gleefully contemplating the dual nature of our existence, Peele shows that one’s stairway to heaven, or in this case an escalator, is another’s to hell. While doppelgängers have long been a staple in genre films, what makes Us so creepy and thrilling is the performances. Lupita Nyong’o is sensational in the dual roles of Adelaide and Red; she breathes full life into each character and can raise the hairs on the back of one’s neck with a simple look. It is in Nyong’o’s movements, ever so subtle at times, where Peele finds plenty of room to shape key aspects of the film’s narrative.
Peele uses movement as something that is equally freeing and terrifying. This is wonderfully visualized in sequence where the art of dance is viewed as both empowering and potentially deadly. It is fascinating to observe how the shadows, often uncontrollably at times, embody their duplicates characteristics even if they do not fully understand them. The film finds much humour in what our mannerisms reveal about ourselves.
The Blu-ray is packed with insightful bonus content in which Peele and the cast delve into the various themes at play in the film. “Tethered Together: Making Us twice” sheds light on how Peele navigated the difficulty of filming knowing that characters had their double in the scene as well. In “The Duality of Us” featurette, Peele discusses the nature of evil manifested through our tribalism and sense of privilege. Another fascinating segment is “Redefining a Genre: Jordan Peele’s Brand of Horror” in which the director highlights several of the films that influenced his horror sensibilities.
A chilling and thought-provoking horror, Us gives audiences plenty of reasons to be afraid of their own shadow.
Bonus Features: The Duality of Us, The Monsters Within Us, Tethered Together: Making Us Twice, Redefining a Genre: Jordan Peele’s Brand of Horror, Becoming Red, Deleted Scenes, We’re All Dying, As Above, So Below: Grand Pas de Deux