Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape;
and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them.
“Get out” was a big nod to the racist past (and present) of the United States. A white, prosperous community who use African Americans to replace their worn-out bodies. A cynical story in which the physique of black Americans is being worshipped to some extent. And at the same time, it’s also distasteful because these American fellow men are regarded as superfluous individuals nobody will miss. Their disappearance won’t be noticed, so to speak. And a protagonist as a future victim, who can escape at the end with a piece of cotton (yes, a subtle reference). It’s quite obvious this can be regarded as a kind of allegory with a political twist. “Us” containing a political message, however, isn’t something I could see immediately. Of course, it depends on how you interpret the whole. I myself interpreted the story as a “Twilight zone” -like event. Soul mates leading a symmetrical existence. So no genetic experiments that got out of hand. Or is it all metaphorically intended and a reflection of how we see ourselves as a society? All in all, I put “Us” on the same level as “Hereditary“. A lot of hype-creation, but in my humble opinion a bit disappointing.
However, the film starts very strong. The most impressive moment is the opening scene with the camera zooming out, slowly revealing lots of bunnies (with a choir as background music). Simply beautiful. Then an intense moment with young Adelaide (Madison Curry) who wanders around on the beach of Santa Cruz during a family vacation and ends up in an attraction. There she stands face to face with something frightening. So frightening that she doesn’t want to speak anymore and her parents (whose loving relationship clearly disappeared) desperately seek the help of a psychologist.
When Adelaide comes back into the picture as an adult (Lupita Nyong’o), it seems as if the traumatic experience has been processed. But when she returns to the same beach with her husband Gabe (Winston Duke) and children Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex), where they meet up with friends, there are all sorts of omens pointing to the event from the past. It’s only when a group of weird people in orange overalls appear on their driveway at night that the atmosphere becomes grim and frightening. At first, I had a sort of “The Purge” deja vu moment. The moment the Wilson family comes face to face with these strangers, it becomes apparent that they are really creepy and strangely behaving individuals.
And the first turnoff offers itself. The moment Red opens her mouth and a terribly annoying voice can be heard. When the ending draws near (and this time the ultimate revelation isn’t particularly surprising), it becomes quite clear why her voice sounds that way. Until that time you are constantly wondering what the reason is for this weird voice. But comfort yourself. You will come across even more mysterious things you won’t understand the ultimate meaning of. I do like films that are not too simplistic and do not offer a pre-canned explanation in such a way that every Joe Average understands what it’s all about. However, I’m not a big fan of films full of symbolism, so a re-watch is a must such that you can discover the deeper meaning behind it. And then you come to the conclusion that your theory isn’t at all consistent with what the director meant.
Jordan Peele has a unique perspective on the horror genre and tries to give it an alternative twist. Only his social-critical message about inequality and the division into classes got through. If Peele once again wants to direct an unusual horror, I hope he will incorporate a different kind of message. Leave out the symbolism and you can speak of a typical “home invasion” film of the same level as, for example, “You’re next“. In that area, it can be called successful.
There are also a lot of positive things to say about this film. “Us” effortlessly transcends the disappointing film “Hereditary“. Not only the tension rises in crescendo and caused some terrifying moments. But also the footage is masterful. You can hardly call it the ultimate slasher, but quite a lot of blood splashes around. But foremost, the acting performance of the four main characters excels. It’s brilliant how they play themselves and their opposite characters. They underwent a frightening-looking transformation, resulting in two completely different personalities. I’m sure James McAvoy will also enjoy this “Split“-like spectacle.
Unfortunately, the end was an anti-climax for me. The concept of horror faded into the background and resulted in a preachy plea about our unjust world and the existence of an oppressed population who feel displeased and misunderstood. A symbolic breaking of the chains and the formation of a human chain for a better world ruined it for me. And at the same time, there are the many unanswered questions that are open to all kinds of interpretations. What’s with all those bunnies hopping around? Food for those on the other side? Or test material for cloning experiments? Why the recurring text “11:11”? And why a pair of scissors as a weapon? But above all, where did they get it? And all those orange overalls? Nope, a rewatch to discover hidden answers and subtle hints, is not something I’m going to do. Films with an accompanying manual. It’ll never thrill me!
Ps. Some additional information about the twin sisters from the other couple. You could already admire them when they were really young as Emma Geller-Green in the sitcom “Friends”.
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