Here’s a short essay I wrote for a film class and felt was worth sharing. Oh and, *SPOILER ALERT*
Jordan Peele’s sophomore film “Us” was understandably highly anticipated after the success of his first film, “Get Out.” “Get Out” was scary, witty and most importantly Black. The entire rollout of the film was intriguing; I remember being unsure if the movie was even real after viewing the trailer for the first time. Fortunately, it was very real and very good. The subtle humor and horror specific to the Black community and all the clues that slowly came together made for a viewing experience that remains uniquely satisfying even two years after the film’s release. Because of this, I along with everyone else I know had high expectations for “Us.” Sadly, those expectations weren’t met.
For me, “Us” was just okay. It lacked the subtle humor of “Get Out” and as a fan of horror films, it definitely wasn’t scary. What’s worst of all, though, is that it was so predictable. I knew from the moment Adelaide saw her doppelganger in the funhouse that the two had been switched. Her inability to talk to or connect with her parents after that night confirmed it for me way before we reached the big “plot twist” at the end. The entire movie I waited for something to shock me and nothing really did. I certainly won’t say it was bad, just disappointing in comparison to “Get Out.” “Get Out” was an engaging ride that kept me thinking the entire film.
More importantly, “Get Out” answered all my questions and connected all the dots before the credits rolled; it even answered questions and connected dots I hadn’t even thought of. “Us,” on the other hand, left far too many questions for my liking. Maybe I’m thinking too practically for a movie but if the government created the tethered wouldn’t they have some kind of defense system in place? Why would the tethered be able to come to the surface so easily that young Adelaide was able to just wander there? What exactly are the rules of when characters can control the actions of their doppelgangers? There were just far too many loose ends for my liking. I understand that sometimes things are purposely left up to the imagination of the audience, but at some point too many unanswered questions are just plot holes.
As one of my classmates mentioned during our discussion, “Get Out” was Peele’s baby that he worked on for years while “Us” clearly got less attention. Again, I don’t think “Us” is a bad movie. The concept was certainly interesting and it features some great cinematography and acting, but it just didn’t live up to “Get Out” for me. In all fairness, though, “Get Out” was a hard act to follow. However, in both films it felt good to see Blackness centered. Even though “Us” wasn’t about race, the family was a Black family who listened to hip-hop on road trips and featured a Howard alumnus father and mother with natural hair. I believe this was a beautiful step towards normalizing Blackness in films that aren’t purely “Black movies.” Jordan Peele’s recent statement that he has no intention of casting a white male lead any time soon has only made me more excited for what he’ll create next.
Be the zeitgeist.