28 March 2019

What do white rabbits, red overalls, mirrors and shadows have in common? Come along for the ride and find out, it’ll be worth it, I promise!

Scene from the movie Us

Directed by Jordan Peele
Starring Lupita Nyong’o, Elisabeth Moss, Winston Duke

As far as horror movies go, this one is a bit different.  It still has those “Oh my God, no… What are you doing?! Get back in the car, you idiot!” moments, but it also has some real tongue in cheek humour, some great suspense moments and a giant plot twist.  All this whilst holding up a dark mirror for us all to examine our shadow side.

You could read many things into this movie but for me there was a strongly hinted undertone of unacknowledged upper class racism and our complicit acceptance that the divide between the“haves” and “have nots” is a natural thing.  The references to “we are Americans” in the dialogue and the title which could be a sly play on United States provoke some deeper thoughts about what this “shadow” world is really meant to mean?  Are we supposed to become more aware of our shadow side and realise we are all being sent a message to do better, be better?

The story starts with an old TV broadcasting an 80’s ad for “hands across America” and a family of 3 visiting the Santa Cruz pier fairground in 1986.  Mum, Dad are bickering their way around the fairground attractions whilst young daughter Adelaide (Madison Curry) is wide eyed and although told to stay close, wanders off when her father pays more attention to whack a mole than to her.

Ending up in the hall of mirrors, she finds herself face to face with herself with a disturbing image, or is it a reality? And so, the tale begins.

Thirty years later, a grown woman, she is headed away on holiday with her own family.  Why are so many horror movies set amongst our fondest memories of summer holidays?

A dodgy speedboat and a visit to Santa Cruz later Adelaide confesses to her husband what happened to her years ago and that she wants to go home because she doesn’t feel like herself. Suddenly a family of four in red overalls are standing outside their house staring in at them, not moving, just waiting.

When they finally do move, the whole theatre leaped six feet out of their seats collectively!

What do you do when your family is right in front of you, the same but different, trying to kill you?

Well you will have to watch to find out the answer, but what I can say is that the soundtrack is awesome and intrinsically linked to the theme, the special effects were graphically realistic and the characters deliciously creepy. I’ll never see a finger click the same way again.

Winston Duke as Adelaide’s husband Gabe Wilson is hilarious with his ill-timed humour and snide comments and Lupita Nyong’o is believable in her middle class mother role (well, until she tries to save the world at least). But as her doppelganger Red, she is terrifyingly good and you can’t look away. Daughter Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) takes to the role of red overall hunter like a duck to water and has several moments of perfect comic timing as she displays all of the usual teenage mannerisms in an environment of mayhem and murder, which is somewhat disturbing.

I enjoyed this movie immensely and would definitely see it again – even if just for the parting shot when you realise that Adelaide’s son Jason (Evan Alex) is aware of much more than she thinks he is.

The door is definitely left open for a sequel – fingers crossed. See Us in cinemas from March 28.