Plot: The Wilson family has traveled to Santa Cruz for a vacation, for some fun, sand, and quality time, with their friends the Tyler crew in the rental house next door. While she is grateful for the time with her loved ones, Adelaide (Luptia Nyong’o) has some issues when it comes time to visit the beach, tied to some traumatic memories from her childhood. But she toughs it out and the families have some fun in the sand, though when her son disappears for a minute, Adelaide has flashbacks to her own problems on the same beach. A mostly good turns to night, but things take an unexpected turn when four people lurk outside the vacation home, unwilling to budge from the shadows even when confronted. Who are these mysterious shadowy people and why have they chosen the Wilson family to stalk like this?
Entertainment Value: Us is a stylish, atmospheric movie from Jordan Peele, fresh off his success with Get Out, which put a little pressure on this follow up. I found Us to be a fun ride, but I think the entertainment lies within the absurd, dark humor involved, rather than scares or even chills. I didn’t think there was much here in terms of serious horror, though the visuals and atmosphere can be eerie at times, offset by how over the top some of the other elements can be, however. I think the movie still appeals to most horror fans however, as it references a lot of genre films and Peele’s influences are evident, so there are some fun pop culture inclusions to soak in. I do think some parts of Us feel a touch pretentious, which is odd since other scenes are hilariously over the top, but the brisk pace and general atmosphere help balance things out. I loved the performances, especially Winston Duke as the groan inducing dad, who often steals the show with his deadpan line deliveries. There has rarely been a less enthusiastic threat on film than “we can get crazy” and that scene was hilarious, pure magic. Again, I didn’t connect with Us as a scare driven horror movie, but it was a lot of fun and intentional or otherwise, the absurd humor was what hooked me in.
No nakedness. The movie has some sex talk, but that’s the extent of the sultrier side of the material in this case. As for bloodshed, there is a good deal of violence in Us, but a lot of it happens at a distance or off camera. In other words, not much kinetic gore or graphic violence. This is likely good news for some, while others might have wanted a little more blood flowing, so that depends on your preferences. I think the boat motor scene is likely the highlight as far as visible blood, while a few stabbing scenes kick in some passable red stuff as well. But for the most part, the violence isn’t shown or happens in little detail, such as obscured by shadows, etc. The dialogue is fun at times, with the hilarious hoarse voice of Red, the yuppie neighbors, and my personal favorite, Winston Duke as the lame dad. The “we can get crazy” scene was by far my choice for the movie’s best moment, as his delivery is total lame dad voice. Fun stuff, I just wish he had even more goofy, dad joke type lines to rattle off. The craziness is decent, with the over the top, sometimes absurd moments, wild performances, and Duke’s hilarious effort, but this never gets too dark or insane. But a little wackier than most mainstream horror movies, I think.