Movie Review: Us
March 23, 2019
Us is a complex film. It follows a family being hunted by their own doppelgangers. That is, at least, how the film was advertised, but that defines maybe the first 40 minutes of the film.
It is part horror, part thriller, part comedy, part social drama and part surrealist. None of these come in phases and are all mixed together in a jarring ebb and flow.
Duality and opposites are the many themes used in the film. They are used in every area of the film in different and contradictory ways.
Us is a funny film but in an odd way.
The humor is placed at odd and often inappropriate times. A tense scene will end with a joke that provides little pay off to the suspense built a few minutes earlier. The movie carries the same campy and B-movie nature of The Twilight Zone (1956-64) or Trolls 2 (1990).
Us is also pretty scary. It is a mix of Hitchcock, Kubrick, Cronenberg, Polanski and Lynch, a combination I never thought possible.
The style and type of horror changes as the film progresses. It starts as a homage to The Shining (1980) and somehow ends on a Mulholland Dr. (2001) inspired fever dream.
Us is not a typical horror film, in the slightest.
The promotional material does not, at all, give an accurate impression of what the film is actually about and is almost misleading. Though, in many places, it is just a typical horror film, which makes the non-typical sections stand out even more.
Us is a split film; it has many identities. The audience in a theater reflected these identities. While the film blended these factors together, the audience was split.
Some people took it totally as a comedy; they laughed and hooted at the screen.
Then, there were those that screamed and averted their eyes from the movie.
A handful of people walked out at various times in the film, their disappointment apparent by their rude and hasty departure.
The mixture of joy, fear and disdain permeated the theater in a horrifyingly contradictory fog. The audience reflected all the different angles and genres the film explores. Watching Us in the theater was akin to a roller coaster, rather than a movie.
Us is an experience. I am still not sure if I like it or even what it entirely means. The one thing I do know is that I enjoyed my time watching it. It was participatory with various cliques forming. I have not stopped thinking about the movie or my time in the theater since I saw it; that is rare for me. Go see it.