Nominations: Best Actor/Actress, Most Unexpected Success, Best Director, Best Score
Cast: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Noelle Sheldon, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Evan Alex
Writer: Jordan Peele
Director: Jordan Peele
Production Companies: Monkeypaw Productions, Blumhouse Productions, Dentsu, Fuji Television Network, Perfect World Pictures, Universal Pictures
I love Jordan Peele. I love his work in TV and film. He has earned accolades and respect both within sketch comedy and in the horror world. GET OUT (2017) remains one of the greatest contributions to the genre in the last 25 years, and US (2019) was a respectable follow-up and a fantastic addition, overall.
US begins in 1986, at a beach carnival where Adelaide (Madison Curry) endures her drunk dad bickering with her mom. She trails behind and eventually wanders off while her pop plays Whack-A-Mole. I love that game. I can’t blame her old man for losing her because hitting those little critters with a mallet is fun, and you can’t win a prize if you’re watching your kid and missing the moles.
In a house of fun-mirrors, Adelaide comes face-to-face with a doppelgänger that looks evil. The event scars her, but through dance she seemingly overcomes the trauma. See, that is something stupid, toe-tap hating, Reverend Moore (John Lithgow) couldn’t get thru his thick skull till Kevin Bacon beat the shit out of him. I think that’s what happened in FOOTLOOSE (1984). It’s been a few years since I saw it.
Grown-up Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) goes on an annual beach trip with her fam to the same place she went to as a child. She’s now in her 30s, and married to a well-intentioned, goofy, geek named Gabe Wilson (Winston Duke) who is filled with dad jokes and bad ideas. They have two children, a pre-teen girl named Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and her younger brother Jason (Evan Alex).
Zora is a typical young girl who is upset about the internet not working and bugs her parents to let her drive. Jason loves magic, masks and old school horror movies. Is it odd that I have the same interests as a 10-year-old? Nah – that’s cool, right?
The trip begins fairly decent as Adelaide and Gabe chill with their wealthy friends Kitty (Elisabeth Moss) and Josh Tyler (Tim Heidecker). Adelaide is apprehensive about going to the beach because of what occurred when she was little, but does because Gabe guilts her into it. In his defense, he doesn’t know that crazy mofo clones with a grudge are waiting to fuck shit up…..and fuck shit up, they do!
We soon learn that everyone has a scary-ass double. The Tylers get attacked and killed by their evil twins. Poor Moss! She outwits and survives the Invisible Man only to get murdered by herself. That’s gotta sting a little.
Sadly, it isn’t just the Tyler fam that has to face off against these fuckers. The Wilsons are dealing with these psycho bitches too. Even the little kids have doubles that are out to kill their counterparts.
There are twists and turns that are both shocking and well-thought-out. The ending is well-done and the final scenes are heart-pounding. If not for the ill-treatment of the poor bunny rabbits, I’d say this was a near perfect flick. Either way, it is well deserving of the BTS Award Nominations.
In fact, I’m not sure if there is a nominee more worthy of Best Score. In an interview with SLATE, Composer Michael Abels relayed how he utilized nonsensical lyrics, instruments that typically were not used with one another and experimental sounds to heighten the intense moments and give an additional sense of duality. Abels was present during the filmmaking process and had insight that few composers get. This window into the movie along with his unbelievable talent helped create a fabulous score that not only adds to the production, but intertwines with and becomes a part of US.
I think the unusual tone and plot did make some doubt how successful the film would be upon release. Thankfully, between fans of GET OUT, the suspenseful trailers and word-of-mouth, US was a smashing hit grossing $255 million on a $20 mil budget! Now, that’s the way you spin green, jelly beans.
Without ever looking at the list, I knew Lupita Nyong’o was going to secure a Best Actress Nomination. Between her two distinct roles, she conveyed every emotion imaginable in a genuine way. Even when everything around her was off-the-rails insane, her performance remained believable and sold every second of the film.
Whether relaxed, paranoid, reasonably concerned or justifiably terrified, Nyong’o delivered. It didn’t matter if her characters were in fight or flight mode. Regardless of which feeling or response she was offering or which role she was showing the viewer, she owned every moment.
Though not nominated, Winston Duke equally shined as Gabe. The scenes where he takes on his double are some of my faves. The differences between the two characters he portrays is so significant that at times it boggles the mind to think they are both played by Duke.
Lastly, Peele has further proved himself as a fabulous director with this entry. Though I still believe GET OUT (2017) is his magnum opus, US is fantastic by anyone’s standards. The tension, fear and overall unsettling feeling stays with the audience far after the credits roll. It’s shocking and memorable for all the right reasons.