Us (2019)

It’s so thrilling to see Peele settle into being a genre filmmaker who is determined to bring new ideas, scenarios and images to the table, as well as a new perspective, instead of being shackled or beholden to what came before. I see so many lackluster horror movies a year and always find myself willing filmmakers to “try harder” instead of just evoking a certain vibe or style that has already been perfected. Go forwards, not backwards. Peele is one of the few conjuring up fresh concepts/approaches.

There’s a frustrating impulse given Peele’s success and timing to put his films on the high pedestal that I find counter-productive to what he’s trying to do. He has these unusual little “what if?” ideas and executes them with as much craft and imagination he can throw at them and has a lot of fun while doing it. So amidst all the silly “Best Horror Movie Of All Time” hype you get a lot of blowback from certain audience members tearing into the “why?” or “how?” fluidity of his concepts/metaphors like it’s a shortcoming. The visceral highs of Us, Peele’s gift for visual ideas and performative ideas is what really counts here. I walk out of this movie remembering the many nuances of its design, of Red’s nightmarish monologue, of the textures in the score and photography, not wether or not the narrative is entirely logical.

Sure, we’ve seen the ideas of Us before but not dressed up like this. When John Carpenter remixes Rio Bravo for Assault on Precinct 13, you don’t care about the homage because he’s throwing those ideas forward into the here/now with a new eye. Both of Peele’s movies so far amount to much more than just the sum of their influences. There really is something curious and unique happening here, the flourishing of a voice. In the same way Carpenter’s name above his titles came to mean something, the words “From the imagination of Jordan Peele” do now, genuinely, mean something. Just don’t try to force these films into the “important masterpiece” box. Enjoy watching this extremely idiosyncratic and genre-savvy filmography slowly grow.

Watched at the cinema

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