Fun times! It is horror night for Double Feature!
I have been looking forward to this one for a while. The second movie from Jordan Peele. After his surprise iconic first film, Get Out, I was ready to see if he could follow it up with something just as fantastic as the first… And he didn’t disappoint. While Us may not be as great or iconic as Get Out it does prove to be one of the best horror movies to be released in the past 30+ years without question.
Us is the story of Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o). After a traumatic childhood experience in a fun house mirror ride at the Santa Cruz pier left her scarred for several years, Adelaide has become a well adjusted and happy woman with a husband and two children in Gabe Wilson, Zora Wilson, and Jason Wilson (played by Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph, and Evan Alex respectfully). After her parents passed away the family travels back to Santa Cruz for a week long vacation. While Adelaide is fearful of the Santa Cruz beach due to her traumatic childhood, Gabe eventually convinces her to go. That night, however, the family is harassed by four people who look exactly like them in matching red jumpsuits and armed with a set of cutting shears. The story then is an intense and horrific night as the family deals with these new uninvited guests.
For starters, the movie handles concepts such as identity as well as what it means to be a good person that I find is very clever. Usually in stories in which doppelgangers are involved there is a clear delineation between the good and the bad. In this, the lines are a bit more fuzzy and engages the audience in a way that I rarely see in movies such as this. Usually, in particular with modern horror movies, the writers and directors tend to think of their audience in the lowest common denominator and hold their hand through most of the plot or keep the plot painfully simple. Us plays with tropes and plays with different ideas of good and evil. Unfortunately I cannot give away too much without spoilers quickly ensuing.
The movie also uses lighting effectively and shows some brilliance in that regard as well. Most horror movies now just tend to keep things dark, mysterious, and morose because… That is what horror movies do. But Us, on several occasions, is bright or a striking red which adds to the intensity of the movie.
At the end of the day, I think it can safely be said that the filmmaking and movie is fantastic and shows the real talent Jordan Peele has for the craft.
My only downside to the movie is the company that it keeps. Considering its sister movie is Get Out, some of the flaws shine through a little more than they should by comparison. The script has a few more flaws in it then its predecessor. Some plot contrivances and holes pop up here and there that are hard to suspend disbelief when held to modest scrutiny. There are some telegraphed action moments and overall, by comparison to the original, I simply do not think it is a better movie.
However, this should not take away from viewing or enjoying us. The flaws of the movie are minimal at best and will still go down as one of the best movies of 2019.
Final Score: 4/5
Into the Dark: Treehouse
This is a movie that I wish was better than what it was. The thing is that, Treehouse is clever and you can see moments of brilliance in it… But unfortunately it makes so many mistakes and poor decisions that it ends up more disappointing on what it could have been then happy on what it was.
Treehouse is the story of Peter (Jimmi Simpson), a Gordon Ramsey-esque famous chef who seems to make a career out of demeaning those lower than him. After returning home to visit his sister Gwen (Amanda Walsh) he finds himself trapped in the house by a group of witches hell bent on revenge for the suicide of a young woman named Becca whom Peter raped in a family treehouse long ago.
For starters, the story itself is quite good. It plays with the ideas of the #MeToo movement and does a lot of good with its message and the acting of those involved are quite effective. However, at the same time, the movie chooses to focus on the wrong character. Making Peter the point of view character and even creating a sort of forced redemption arc does little for the message they are trying to push and even comes across less as a story of redemption and more that the witches involved were happy to let him live after being such an insufferable bastard.
Second, while the movie attempts to be original in certain areas, it is hard to ignore the influence from other movies and TV shows in the genre. While the Into the Dark series may want to distance itself from the more popular American Horror Story elements of the movie felt like it was a set of rejected ideas from the show that made their way onto Hulu.
While the movie does create some effective elements, the sum of its parts tragically doesn’t add up and it leaves the audience thinking of all that could have been.
Final Score: 2/5