As the Halloween season approaches, horror films are on the horizon, and this week Missouri Southern is showing one of the hit horror films from last year. "Us" stars Lupita Nyong’o (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Winston Duke (Black Panther), Shahadi Wright (The Lion King (2019)), and Evan Alex (The Kid) and follows a family as they go on vacation to their beach house, where they are confronted by beings that look exactly like them.
As I am not typically a fan of horror films, I was nervous about how much I would like this film. However, even though this isn’t my typical type of film, this film had a lot of good things going for it. The acting was great, the cinematography was amazing, it was intense through and through, and the music was appropriately creepy and fit the tone. Through all the good though, the message and the themes of the movies were unclear.
Starting with the good as always though, the acting in this movie was great. Each of the actors had a standout moment, but the standout was easily Nyong’o. She did a great job as the lead role, but she did even better as her doppelganger character, who was more or less the main villain. She did a great job distinguishing the characters and their motivations. The rest of the cast was also great. Duke provided some much-needed comic relief, while also bringing emotion when the time called for it, and the kids also did really good, especially for kid actors.
Easily one of the best parts of this movie for me is the cinematography and the way this film was shot. 6 minutes into the film I realized how into the film I was and the that was purely because of the way it was shot. There were multiple one shots, adding tension and or emotion to the scene. The way certain scenes were framed, the camera movements, everything about the way this movie was shot added to the intensity of the movie. The key to a good horror film is to make it unique, and this film definitely does that.
The movie was intense through and through. While the camera work helped with that as I mentioned earlier, the plot itself was very intense and felt different than your typical horror movie. One of the reasons horror isn’t my genre is because a lot of them tend to rely on cheap scares with a mostly uninteresting story, but this movie actually got me really invested in the story and characters, while still giving you the scares people want out of a horror movie. The story felt unique, the characters felt three dimensional, and the scares relied a little bit more on psychological scares, which I appreciated.
The last big aspect of the movie I really appreciated was the music. The music was appropriately creepy while again feeling unique to this movie. The music intensified the scarier scenes, gave power to the emotional scenes, and kept you interested throughout the film. What was especially interesting about the music in this was the fact that, while it was great through the whole film, I didn’t fully understand why this was the movie for this film. However, the final act reveals really brings to light why this music fit and tied a lot of the movie together, which I have never seen in a film before, but I ended up really enjoying.
While all of these aspects remain great, the film was not perfect for me. My big problem with this film was that I did not entirely understand the message. The film made an attempt to say something, and I have read what the director says it was supposed to be about, but watching the film, I didn’t really pick it up. The whole movie I could tell there was a message I was supposed to be getting, but I felt like it was hidden a little to deeply. The bigger problem was the final act twist. While the twist itself wasn’t bad, I’m not sure what it really added to the film. I didn’t feel like it was needed, and once again it was like the film was trying to say something but never got the chance to fully say it.
Overall, I would say if you’re a horror fan, I would recommend you check this one out. From a production standpoint, it is really good and gives you all the thrills you need. For me personally, as someone who isn’t a fan of the genre, I don’t know if I would watch it again, though I definitely respect it.