MOVIE REVIEW: Jordan Peele’s Us has double the frights
Three and a half stars
Director Jordan Peele
Starring Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss
Running time 116 minutes
Verdict A real scream
Where there's an Us, there's a them.
Director Jordan Peele's supernatural version of the Other is uncomfortably close to the bone in his hotly anticipated follow-up to 2017 horror hit Get Out.
Materially, emotionally and sensorily deprived, there's a monstrous doppelganger for each and every one of us.
And when this underworld underclass is liberated, by forces yet to be revealed, all hell breaks loose.
The horror begins when Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong'o) returns with her husband (Winston Duke) and their two offspring to the home where she grew up.
Haunted by a traumatic childhood experience in a malevolent, beachside House of Mirrors - masterfully realised by Peele - Wilson is sure something bad is about to happen.
And it doesn't take long for those fears to be realised.
After a daytrip to the beach - to meet Elisabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker's God-awful, middle-class white family - Wilson's family gets a visit, around dusk, by their deviant doubles.
Only the blank-faced matriarch is capable of speech, a raw, guttural rasp that sounds as if her vocal chords are stiff and rarely used.
Before she exacts her revenge, the monster-mother paints a harrowing picture of a hellish, "Tethered" mirror existence without choice, agency or natural light.
Her zombie-like husband is a lumbering, grunting oaf.
Their children are demonic versions of Wilson's.
The Tethered daughter (Shahadi Wright Joseph) is preternaturally fast.
The disfigured, doglike son (Evan Alex) is fascinated by fire.
After escaping to the house of their filthy rich friends - and surviving an encounter with t evil, cartwheel-spinning twin sisters - the Wilsons learn that their doppelgangers are far from an isolated phenomenon.
And so begins their desperate, bloody, primal battle for survival - only son Jason (Alex) has any empathy for these misbegotten creatures.
Clearly, Peele's fiendishly creative, genre-redefining directorial debut was no aberration.
His sophomore project is a more straight-up horror outing, directed with Hitchcockian precision.
And it comes with a neck-dislocating twist that would do The Exorcist proud.
By telling his story from the perspective of a middle class African American family, Peele expands discussions about race, privilege and oppression exponentially.
Film students and cultural theorists will be unpicking Us's underlying subtext for years.
Nyong'o's dual performance is nothing short of mesmerising. And she is well supported by Moss's self-involved rich bitch.
Us opens on Thursday.