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Review: Lupita Nyong’o Steals the Show in ‘Us’

April 2, 2019

The horror film directed by Jordan Peele is showing at State Theatre in Ann Arbor this month.

By Andrew Warrick

Featured photo via Universal Studios

In “Us,” people are hunted by evil versions of themselves, and a family vacation becomes a struggle for survival. Saying anything else about the film directed by Jordan Peele and starring Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke would count as a spoiler. Just know that when the scares start, they do not let up until the credits role. This flick combines nail-biting terror with expansive science fiction and has the craziest twists this side of the “Twilight Zone.” Not only is “Us” a riveting horror film, but it’s a timely social allegory.

Like “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” “Night of the Living Dead” and Peele’s own “Get Out,” the horror in “Us” comes with a social message. However, unlike Peele’s Oscar winner, the symbolism is kept vague, and the characters and their plight take center stage. It’s hard to argue politics when a character is being attacked with scissors, after all. While this does make for exciting viewing, some of the immediacy of Peele’s previous film is lost. “Us” is primarily meant to be enjoyed, even if it is through your fingers.

Just as in “Get Out,” Peele shows the skill of an auteur with his command of direction, cinematography and soundtrack. The performances are just as great. Nyong’o steals the show and is both hero and villain in a performance that needs to be watched at least twice. “Us” is a treasure trove of Easter eggs. If you look closely, you’ll find clues in the smallest of details, from a costume choice to the time on a clock. Even the title, “Us,” could mean us as an audience, or how the letters form “U.S.,” as in America. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

However you choose to interpret it, “Us” is a triumph of intensity, attention to detail and spectacular performances. Nyong’o and her characters are destined to join the pantheon of horror icons like Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley and Jamie Lee Curtis’s Laurie Strode. This will be one of 2019’s best films.


State Theatre

233 S. State St., Ann Arbor

Showing through at least April 5

Andrew Warrick is a student at the University of Michigan. He is majoring in creative writing and history, and is a part of the Residential College. He also leads the RC’s Creative Writing Forum. When not watching movies, he loves hanging out with friends, especially in the spectacular Ann Arbor, becoming addicted to novels, and listening to Bowie records. Some of his favorite movies are “Cloud Atlas,” “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” “Twin Peaks: The Return,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Alien.”

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