If you think the notion of being terrorized by doppelgangers, bloody beachfront boardwalks and fuzzy logic collectively create a good horror movie, then watching Jordan Peele’s latest thriller, Us, will be right up your alley.
Building off the goodwill from Peele’s first film (Get Out) and his awards success as a producer (BlacKkKlansman) comes a different type of movie. Us features the Wilsons taking a family vacation in Northern California as hidden secrets finally get revealed when they’re attacked by a group of lookalikes and the story eventually unfolds. To reveal much more of the storyline would be truly villainous and would exceed any expectation of discovering it for yourself, actually enjoying the movie-going experience — but know that it’s a fun ride, much like a roller coaster. And just like attending an amusement park, once the adrenaline ends and the ride has ended — or in this case, the whole story is revealed — you will feel a little let down, if for the only reason that you’ll question the whole experience by the time the end credits are rolling.
Fans of the unusual, the strange and the paranormal who regularly listen to Coast to Coast AM will recognize doppelgangers as a plot device in the movie’s trailer, along with the well-used song, I Got 5 On It, which is timed to play perfectly and creepily throughout the film. As a definition, a doppelganger is an apparition or a double of a living person. And if you believe ancient folklore, myths, tall tales and word on the street, this is usually a sign of bad luck, as in being an “evil twin” of somebody… immediately bringing to mind old-timey movies where the antagonist is simply the leading actor wearing a mustache as a disguise for an alter ego, often battling himself. More recently, modern belief in the theory states that if you actually encounter your exact copy, you will soon die, as it’s a sign of impending doom. While some people claim that parallel universes can cross over at some point as an explanation for doppelgangers, the theory of paranormal encounters with an identical clone of yourself is one which I thoroughly enjoy that is a tale as old as time, itself.
Peele runs with that creepy concept as the basis of this movie and it is an effective one, but once he arrives at its conclusion, the story immediately runs out of bloody steam. Unfortunately, the explanation given is nothing more than fuzzy logic, so if you don’t require specific storyline reasoning, you’ll actually enjoy this movie. But, if you’re like me, once the film ends, you’ll probably reach the conclusion that Peele was more concerned with creating good action scenes, a very good score and great jump scares than actually explaining a believable backstory. It almost feels as if it was an afterthought, to be figured out during editing, after all the scenes were in the can.
The strong writing that won Peele an Oscar for Get Out is not really on display here, but his exploration of a spooky Bizarro world should definitely be experienced inside a movie theater, along with a packed crowd. Hearing the audible reactions of the collective group, alone, is definitely worth the price of admission.