“As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.”
This was the verse that was on my mind as I was watching Us, the new horror film from Jordan Peele (who won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for his 2017 debut film, Get Out). We tend to be our own worst enemies at times (something Satan knows and loves to use as mind tricks on us), which is one of the many things that this film gets spot on. While it is no secret that many horror films are bad, the past few years have shown many quality examples (The Babadook, The Witch, IT, Hereditary). Us is one of the best of the decade. Hitchcock would not be proud: He would be envious.
The movie opens with a young girl named Adelaide (newcomer Madison Curry) and her parents at a carnival at the beach in Santa Cruz in 1986. She wonders off, finding a house of mirrors, where she has a traumatic experience. Flash forward to the present, where the adult Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) is on a summer vacation with her husband Gabe (Winston Duke), her preteen daughter Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph), and her young son Jason (Evan Alex). Each scene with the family in the first half crackles with authenticity. They are invited to Santa Cruz by their family friends, Kitty and Josh Tyler (Elisabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker, respectively), who have two teenager girls of there own (Cali and Noelle Sheldon).
One night, a mysterious family appears in the drive way, turning out to be doppelgängers of Adelaide’s family. This, indeed, is where the horror and chills really goes on full blast, and is where I will stop talking about the plot. Plot twists can make or break a film (especially in horror), and there were plenty that I am still picking my jaw off the ground from.
Each of the four actors play their respective other. Zora’s opposite has a grin that will make your hair stand on end, while Jason’s is (for the most part) wearing a mask. Gabe’s is more akin to that of Frankenstein’s monster. Yet if there is anything that is to keep you up at night for days, it is Adelaide’s doppelgänger (named Red), with a voice that is one of the scariest in any film I have ever seen (to put it in perspective, it is up there with the voice of Regan in The Exorcist).
Parents, there should be no real surprise that this film is not for kids. While there is no sexual content (despite one comic scene of the dad trying to lay suggestively on the bed, with no luck), the film has more than enough violence and swearing to make this a solid R rating.
Us is one of those movies that you can watch again and again and find new things that the director is trying to say (which is always a positive). There are hints at politics (which I truly hope does not turn off people from seeing the film), but also lessons to be taken when we leave the theater. We do, in a sense, have to face ourselves in life. Peele’s view of human nature is that we all have skeletons in our closet; I’d say that we all have a sin problem and that’s why we need a savior, whether we are the perpetrator or the victim dealing with the trauma. We have our secrets that eventually come into the light. Luke 8:17 says, “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.”
There is another bible verse actually mentioned in the film. I won’t say what it is, because you will undoubtedly look it up. Of course, this verse is taken out of context, but when you read it after the theater, it will be just another chill that Jordan Peele has sent down your spine.