“Us”: Getting Past Us and the Shtick of Them

Us is them, you, me, U.S., United States and all the good black and white and in between moments. It being horror, Us. is also Halloween, The Birds, The Shining, Jaws, eventually Night of the Living Dead, Friday the 13th, Black Swan.

You get the point- the references, the pastiche, the absurd visual metaphors involving rabbits, Hands Across America, oversize gold scissors, slavery, sewers, Fun House mirrors, beach, sand, home. And it is also about Lupita Nyong’o, she of the eloquent possession mark at the end, sublime blackness that is wilding, enticing, familiar, exotic, eyes that are both crazed and delightful, pools of comfort, and above all, a supreme chameleon, able to pull off any misdirection and honesty the director Jordan Peele requires of her.

Without Nyong’o, Us is nothing. The big plot twist I figured out halfway through and since it involved Nyong’o delivering a delicious, beautifully choreographed payback, I didn’t pretty much care.

Is it any good? Only as good as Nyong’o is good and she is sublime, so Us feels inspired to the casual viewer, making Us’ illusion pretty much complete.

Nyong’o gives Us bite. Nyong’o makes Us a feverish nightmare.

All photos courtesy of Universal Studios Pictures.

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