CULT FACTION

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Us (2019)

US is the new horror/thriller film from Director Jordan Peele, director of the smash hit 2017 movie Get Out. The film sees a family have to fend off evil doppelgangers of themselves and their friends in order to survive. Starring Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex as the protagonist family. This film both confuses and intrigues me. On the one hand, I really enjoyed it and found it to be tense, enthralling and enticing. On the other hand I felt like the plot was so convoluted, confusing and confused that I am struggling to understand it or determine if I do actually like it or not. Let’s get the objectively good stuff out of the way first. The performances were seminal all around, with Winston Duke as both Gabe and Abraham being one of my favourite elements. The contrast between the nerdy, out of touch Gabe and the unflinching, primal violent nature of Abraham set Duke apart as a highlight of the film. Nyong’o was also good as the sadistic and vengeful Red and the motherly, protective Adelaide, with her performance of Adelaide in particular being praiseworthy.

One of the film’s strongest elements is the soundtrack. The haunting remix of “I got five on it” is genius and adds an unseen flavour to the film, while the violin and piano elements contribute heavily to the tension that the film builds up. The Tyler family are also a good addition to the film, with the doppelganger played by Tim Heidecker being an unexpected source of grim humour. This doppleganger is also where one of the films biggest issues begins to arise. The doppelgangers are semi-explained to be the result of an abandoned Government cloning experiment decades prior to the beginning of the film. The extent of the experiment is unknown, but from what we see in the film we can determine that at the very least the experiment covers the Santa Cruz area. The doppelgangers are explained to be perfect copies of their originals, except for the fact that they are seemingly soulless and devoid of human emotion. The doppelgangers have been living in underground tunnels and rooms, subsisting only on raw Rabbit meat. They also copy the actions of their above ground counterparts, miming out the actions in a futile facsimile of human life.

Heidecker’s doppelganger character breaks this rule of being emotionally devoid and unaware, as he seems to have a twister sense of humour and does things that could only have been learned from human behaviour. He seems to be the only one with actual personality quirks and there is no explanation given as to how he has this behaviour. The dopplegangers sometimes copy the actions of the regular counterparts, but this seems to change when the plot demands it and is very much a convenient plot device to be switched on and off when necessary. Jason, the Wilson’s son, seems in particular able to turn off his doppleganger mimicry whenever the plot demands it, which makes for a confusing climactic sequence. The big twist of the film is that the woman we think to be Adelaide is actually her doppelganger who switched places with her years prior. Despite the doppelgangers being the ones who mimic, the actual Adelaide is shown to mimic her doppelganger while underground as she began to dance when the doppelganger did. This also raises the question of why the real Adelaide didn’t try and escape back to the surface world and why she simply accepted her fate as ruler of the doppelgangers when she could have escaped and tried to return to regular life. The doppelgangers are said to have no soul, but the fact that the doppelganger posing as Adelaide was able to lead a normal life and seem normal dispels this immediately. Where the doppelgangers were able to get thousands of jumpsuits and pairs of golden scissors without detection also does not make sense. Likewise, the fact that nobody has ever discovered these doppelgangers is also absurd.

The idea that these doppelgangers which have subsisted only on rabbit meat are physically capable enough to take on their regular human counterparts is also ridiculous.

VERDICT: These are a few of the issues I have with the plot, and indeed are the most prevalent and pressing, at least in my opinion. Perhaps I missed something, perhaps all of this was explained in some subtle way and I am simply being too boneheaded to realise it. If that is the case I would be welcome to hear it and amend my score but until such a time I can only give this film a score of 6/10 for being an intriguing concept with a less than stellar execution.

 

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