"Man vs. Himself. . . Literally"
What You Need To Know:
US is a provocative, allegorical movie with many twists and shocking revelations. The direction, writing and acting are very good. The movie has positive parental portrayals, spiritual illusions, and even some theological truths regarding mankind’s sinful nature and human depravity. The movie is definitely a conversation starter. That said, US has some bloody violence, very intense scenes and lots of foul language. So, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution.
US is a psychological horror movie about a family on vacation that’s being hunted by doppelgangers of themselves. US is thrilling and disturbing, with some light Christian symbolism, but a lot of foul language and violence.
Adelaide is still haunted by a traumatizing moment from her childhood where she wandered into a house of mirrors at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk and saw a girl that looked just like her. Now, Adelaide is married to the goofy Gabe, who’s living the middle-class American dream and loves embarrassing their two children, Jason and Zora. The family goes to Adelaide’s childhood home in Santa Cruz to vacation and hang out with their friends, Josh and Kitty. Adelaide isn’t in the mood for vacationing, especially when they visit the old beach where she was traumatized as a child.
Later that night, Adelaide breaks down to Gabe and explains what she saw when she was a child, and states that she has a feeling the girl she saw is coming back for her. Abruptly, the power goes out, and they see a family of four dressed in red coveralls wielding giant scissors standing in the shadows of the driveway. Gabe tries to scare them off, but they break into the house and surround them. The family in red looks just like them, minus the murderous eyes, and the fact that Jason’s doppelganger scoots around like a dog and wears a mask over his face.
Adelaide’s double speaks in a low, raspy voice and explains that they’re shadows of Adelaide, Gabe, Jason, and Zora, who’ve lived underground and have only known coldness and pain. Gabe’s double then drags an injured Gabe outside and knocks him unconscious. Zora’s double has her run away so she can chase her down. Jason’s double, who’s called Pluto by his mother, wants to play in the other room with Jason. Adelaide is left handcuffed to the coffee table with her terrifying version of herself eager to enact some sort of violent revenge.
However, thanks to a clever move from Jason, he manages to escape from Pluto and hide. This lures Adelaide’s double away from Adelaide, given her an opportunity to break free from the coffee table. One by one, the family member barely escape their doppelgangers and escape together. However, they eventually learn that this horrific event isn’t only happening to them, it’s happening everywhere across America. Will the family survive?
Writer and Director Jordan Peele’s surprise hit thriller GET OUT was loaded with commentary on race in America. US, while just as provocative if not more, isn’t nearly as blatant in its messaging. Peele has a knack for successfully creating visceral nightmare scenarios that haunt moviegoers after they leave the darkened movie theater. It’s no surprise he signed on to executive produce and host the reboot of THE TWILIGHT ZONE. Peele also nods to horror movie inspirations like Kubrick’s THE SHINING and Spielberg’s JAWS, even having one of the child characters ironically wearing a JAWS T-shirt at the beach. What’s most surprising about US is the amount of humor throughout. So much so, the humor nearly undercuts the jeopardy and terror of the situations facing the characters. The acting, led by the fierce Lupita Nyong’o, is also electrifying.
As to the message and worldview of US, like many powerful parables, there are multiple ways of looking at it. While some are already interpreting it through various political lenses, what rings undeniably true is the theological truth of the sin nature that lurks in all of us (something the filmmakers may not admit themselves). For Christians, the basic storyline of man vs. himself is ripe with allegorical meat, since we all have to put to death the old man, our former selves, that revels in sin (Eph. 4:22). Did the filmmakers intend this? Probably not, but one can’t completely dismiss the spiritual applications. At one point, Adelaide’s double explains that copies of humans were made, but they couldn’t copy the soul, only the body. Multiple times she asserts that God is testing her and called her on her mission to free the doppelgangers from below. In the end, what US asks viewers is, who’s the real monster? The copies below or the people above?
On top of the deeper philosophical, sociological and theological questions, there’s a positive moral portrayal of a mother willing to fight off anyone, including herself, to save her family. US has some bloody violence, very scary intense scenes and lots of foul language. Because of this, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution.