Thursday, May 23, 2019

"Us" is a poor man's 'Funny Games'

Unlike his 2017 debut feature, Get Out, comedian-turned-director Jordan Peele's sophomore outing, Us, is as a family friendly "horror" film that you may find in the world of modern cinema.  In this story of a family of four who are terrorized by their own doppelgängers (i.e. apparitions or otherwise doubles of themsleves), the tension and terror that the movie's trailer promised only lasts through the first 40 or so minutes; then, once the heroine's (Lupita Nyong'o) double begins to speak in a tone and prose that resembles a mentally challenged person's version of a fairy tale, the whole thing turns... well... laughable.  Since that clearly wasn't the director's intention, for the next 80 minutes we are left to wonder why no harm ever came to the main characters, while everyone around them is dropping like flies.  Hasn't Peele learned anything from Game of Thrones?  Doesn't he know that you have to kill off at least one (perhaps even two) relevant characters in order to create tension?  And also, isn't he aware that Michael Haneke has (in a way) made this movie already - TWICE??

Us isn't only free of genuine thrills or scares; it's also the most blood-less R rated horror that I can recall (no idea why this got an R rating).  And in the spirit of Kubrick, who loved to photograph his protagonists in a close-up as they psychotically stared into the camera, Peele, in his two-movie filmography thus far, has found a shot that may one day be named after him: a close-up of the hero/heroine in a state of fright as multiple tears flow down their face.  How I wish that I had been nearly that frightened or excited by anything in Us.

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