MovieMonday: Us

This well-written, well-made horror movie does a nice job of scaring filmgoers while suggesting indirectly that its blood and violence flow from unspecified tensions between winners and losers in current society.

“Us” opens with a little girl’s 1986 visit to a creepy funhouse on the boardwalk in Santa Cruz, Calif. where something not entirely understandable happens.

Then the film shifts to the current day when that same girl returns to the city.  The grown-up Adelaide Wilson (a terrific Lupita Nyong’o), is on vacation with her affable husband, Gabe (Winston Duke,) and their two children, Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex.)

Adelaide is clearly uneasy, but it is only when four people are seen standing and holding hands in the family’s driveway after dark that her husband and children become concerned.  The beings in the driveway wear red and resemble the Wilsons.  When Gabe asks them to leave, they do not.  Events proceed from there.

One question is who the visitors are — humans? replicants? extra-terrestrials?  Another question is what they want.  The situation broadens, taking in the similarly beset white family next door and then goes further.  There is some business with the strangers’ weapons of choice — long, sharp scissors.  A couple other elements are young boys wearing masks and large numbers of rabbits, some caged.  All very mysterious and all concerning.

No need to reveal any more.  Horror film audiences, like people who favor scary rides at amusement parks, want to experience the shock and terror personally.

(This writer does not need to seek the thrill of external horror.  The Id family owns a home in New Jersey, which comes with a dreaded annual surprise, known locally as the property tax bill.)

“Us” was written, directed and produced by Jordan Peele, the creator of 2017’s humor/horror film Get Out and, before that, the popular Key and Peele comedy sketches.  Peele is developing his skills with each new outing, and this movie is worth watching for anyone interested in the horror genre or Peele’s career trajectory.

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