AUSTIN, TX — Last night, SXSW's film festival opened with Us, the hotly anticipated film from writer, director and producer Jordan Peele (Get Out, Key & Peele), and I absolutely loved it.
In fact, Us is so good that I didn't care that I waited on line for 4 hours to guarantee a good view of the screen: it was completely worth it, as the horror film thrilled myself and the audience on hand, and pushed the genre past its limits.
But, for reasons that will be clear soon, I thought my review of Us should be different than your average. Here's everything you need to know (and nothing that you shouldn't) about Jordan Peele's Us.
1. Stay away from spoilers — which aren't in this review
I can't say why, but you should go into Us with a minimal (if any) knowledge of the film. If you've seen the trailers (and I've embedded one here) that's enough, as that was the extent of my exposure before I saw it.
That being said, you can keep reading this review, which I'm writing as spoiler-free as I can. What does that mean? I'm focusing on the big picture, and not the details.
2. Lupita Nyong'o knocks it out the park
Nobody should be surprised that the actress famous for her work in films such as 12 Years a Slave and Black Panther could lead a film, but wow does she ever. The depth and power of her Nyong'o's performance is up there with any I've seen in recent history, to the point where she'd be guaranteed an Oscar if this wasn't a horror movie.
3. Us is definitely a horror movie
There's only one reason to not see Us: you don't like horror movies (I get it, they're not for everyone). Even more so than Peele's Get Out, Us is a movie that has a lot of gore and violence, and scares the heck out of you.
So if you're not comfortable with some blood and some bone-crunching moments, you may want to sit this one out. It's not as traumatizing as, say, Hereditary, but it's not for the faint.
4. Us mixes humor and shock exceptionally well
Multiple scenes in the film place the audience on the edges of their seats, only to hit you with a surprise belly-laugh joke that you didn't see coming. That being said, the scares and thrills of this movie are so unnerving and relentless at times that I found myself making noises that I didn't know I could make, out of fear and suspicion.
5. There's already a subreddit for Us, and it's gonna be popular
Well, it's not just for Us, but Jordan Peele launched r/MonkeypawProductions as a home for fans to discuss the films made by his production company, which he started in 2012. And in keeping with the aforementioned spoiler-free nature of this review, I'll simply add that I expect to spend a lot of time in this forum discussing the film's story.
6. Winston Duke is more than M'Baku
While many may know the actor Winston Duke for his scene stealing work in Black Panther, where he played the charismatic M'Baku, Us gives the man a lot more to work with. Sure, they don't shy away from his humor, but this film allows him to show a lot more nuance, and will likely be seen as a point from which his career jumped even higher.
7. Your theater will go wild for Us
Audiences at SXSW film screenings are notorious for being enthusiastic, but I can practically guarantee that even though Us will frighten you, you'll have a blast at the same time. Our crowd at the world premiere was audibly enthralled with the film, to a point where I'm thinking of seeing it again for the experience alone. scree
8. Pay close attention for clues
Us is the kind of movie that is littered with both hints and references, the kind of which I filled my reporter's pad with, despite being in a completely dark theater. While some of the fine print in the film are fantastic jokes that you'll miss if you blink, others are clues to piecing together the overall mystery of the film.
During a Q&A session after the film ended, Peele said he made Us with a trust in the audience to be smart enough to figure things out, unlike other movies which often expect the bare minimum from viewers. In fact, there's so much to notice that I'm sure this film's box office will benefit from people paying to see it multiple times.
9. Us even sounds amazing
Much like the metal spoon circling against the teacup in Get Out, Us is a movie that's enhanced by a fantastic series of recurring sound effects. And not only does it feature a fantastic soundtrack, but it plays with the music it uses, breaking songs down to elements and rearranging them.