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Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ is a terrifying cinematic triumph

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Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ is a terrifying cinematic triumph

courtesy of IMDb

courtesy of IMDb

courtesy of IMDb

Trevor Tyle, Life & Arts Editor

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There’s no denying Jordan Peele is a master storyteller. After the worldwide success of his 2017 directorial debut, “Get Out,” Peele has returned with a film that, much like its predecessor, both challenges and exceeds audience expectations in the best way.

Peele’s latest effort, “Us,” is intoxicating, to say the least. In spite of the complexities that come with it, the brilliant cast of the film makes “Us” feel real, ultimately triggering a greater emotional response.

“Us” follows the Wilsons, a seemingly normal family who are vacationing in Santa Cruz. The family’s matriarch, Adelaide (an incomprehensibly remarkable Lupita Nyong’o) has reservations about returning to the local beach, where she suffered a traumatic encounter as a child that has haunted her well into adulthood. But her family, which also consists of patriarch Gabe (Winston Duke) and children Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex), convinces her otherwise.

However, because this is a horror film — and a Jordan Peele one, at that — it doesn’t take long for things to go wrong. After discovering mysterious intruders outside their home one night, the family is attacked and imprisoned by their own doppelgängers (also played by the same actors).

Anything beyond that delves into spoiler territory. Every time you think you understand where the film is going, it throws you for another loop.

“Us” is a film rich in symbolism, offering audiences limitless interpretations of… well, literally everything. It’s truly one of the most thought-provoking films since Darren Aronofsky’s “mother!” in 2017 — though the care and attention to detail Peele has undoubtedly invested into “Us” delivers a far greater payoff than the latter.

There’s a universality to the story Peele is telling — and as the film’s writer, producer and director, this is all on him. In spite of its intricacies, at the core of “Us” is a narrative of ourselves and how we as a society are our own worst enemy. It’s a film that warrants a second screening and hours of thought long after the credits have rolled.

Early reactions to the film compared Peele to a “modern day Hitchcock,” a statement I’m hesitant to lend my support to only because I don’t want to jinx it. But it’s clear Peele has the potential to follow in the legendary director’s footsteps. Much like Hitchcock, he boasts a rare star power that makes the success of his films more director-driven than actor-driven.

With only “Get Out” under his belt, Peele has made a name for himself, one that can clearly sell a shit ton of movie tickets and leave audiences anxiously awaiting his next release.

And if you thought “Get Out” blew your mind, you haven’t seen anything yet. With “Us,” not only has Peele raised the bar, but he’s managed to evade the dreaded directorial sophomore slump. Nyong’o, meanwhile, leads a slew of impressive performances, set behind a narrative that leaves you both invested and horrified from beginning to end.

There’s a visceral thrill to this film that is truly unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed before. “Us” never stops surprising audiences, a pattern that culminates with one of the most unsettling, astounding plot twists I’ve ever experienced in a film.

I can honestly say that seeing this film on the big screen was one of the most rewarding and communal theatergoing experiences I’ve ever had in my entire life. “Us” is a film that packs as much soul as it does fear. It’s a film that deserves to be seen and remembered — and believe me, it will.

Rating: 5/5 stars

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Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ is a terrifying cinematic triumph