So, let’s talk about Us, particularly the ending. SPOILERS BELOW.
So, much of what makes this movie work, and there’s a lot that makes this movie work, is how well pretty much the entire cast does with playing two characters. And while Lupita Nyong’o particularly excels as both Adelaide and the character generally known as “Red,” I did like the way that Peele showed differences in character and personality for the alternate members of Adelaide’s family. Red is, of course, the only double who seems capable of speech, so what we got out of the other characters had to be conveyed silently. That could be the more physical performance from Winston Duke’s Abraham, who tends towards guttural grunts; Shahadi Wright Joseph’s Umbrae, who never makes a single noise that I can recall at all as she follows her prey wearing a cruel smile suggesting she’s just playing with someone she could swat easily; and Evan Alex’s Pluto, who seems more feral dog than a human being.
And, while I am handing out kudos, I really liked Elizabeth Moss’s double Dahlia, who does a lot without speaking, possibly more than Moss got to do as the version of her character who could actually talk. Then again, Moss is an incredibly strong actress.
But I do want to say something about spoilers themselves. In the Gabbing Geek home office, there are varying degrees of tolerance for spoilers. I know I have in the past often unintentionally violated them. For example, I write my movie reviews thinking they are basically spoiler-free, but Jimmy has said my reviews give too much away in his mind. My general rule of thumb for spoilers is to basically not say more than a standard, professional movie review will reveal. That means the basic premise, a general description of the plot, and a few other things. Now, personally, spoilers don’t bother me as much as they do some. Mostly that comes from a bad habit of accidentally spoiling myself on a lot of movies and TV shows before I get a chance to see them. I don’t mind so much because then I can focus a bit more on the craft involved and leave it at that.
Heck, I was a jumpy kid that never got into horror movies, so sometimes for them, I will spoil the hell out of them for myself before going. I don’t like gore or jump scares.
Despite these efforts, a radio review mentioning how Nyong’o’s double is the only one who speaks, the fact one or two of them mentioned the double-meaning of the title (as Nyong’o’s Red says when asked who she and her familar are, she croaks, “We’re Americans.”), and heck, that radio review said this could be the first Marxist horror movie…the basic fact pointed out that only Red actually speaks more or less clued me in pretty well for the ending, so I wasn’t all that surprised.
I was still pleased. Jordan Peele put together a brilliant horror movie. I just wasn’t surprised.
And not just from a lack of jump scares.
By the by, I chatted with Watson–who had also seen the movie–afterwards and learned Us wasn’t sitting as well with audiences. Watson personally mentioned stuff that seemed weird for the sake of being weird. I don’t mind that so much depending on the genre, but he raises a good point. Then again, at least with Get Out, the bad guys were wealthy white liberals, and since most people in the audience don’t tend to be those at least one of those things, it could be easy to not see the movie as an accusation. Us doesn’t really let anyone off the hook. It suggests that every American who might be considered middle class or higher got there on the back of someone else who couldn’t. I don’t think that message will sit too kindly with many people.