HALL OF MIRRORS
Jordan Peele’s Us opens in 1986. Young Adelaide and her parents are at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. While her father is playing a game and her mother goes to the restroom, Adelaide wonders off, only to end up at a hall of mirrors type attraction.
It’s 2019 and Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave, Black Panther) is grown up with a family of her own which includes a boy, Jason, and a girl, Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph). They have a house near the boardwalk they go to each summer. Gabe (Winston Duke, Avenger’s: Infinity War, Black Panther) Adelaide’s husband, wants to go to the beach but Adelaide is not so keen on doing so. She does her best to talk him out of it but to no avail.
While at the beach with their friends Kitty (Elizabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale, Mad Men) and Josh (Tim Heidecker, The Trail tv series) Adelaide’s mind is somewhere else. When her son, Jason (Evan Alex) disappears, she panics. But soon he appears and all is good. I should add that Jason likes to wear a devil’s mask. This is no coincident to Jason, from Friday the 13th, who also wore a mask, but he wore a hockey mask.
Later that night Adelaide tells Gabe about her experience in 1986. Gabe now understands Adelaide’s fear of the boardwalk. Gabe is a bit on the dorky side and he displays it throughout the movie, which at times is funny and other times is very frustrating for Adelaide and the viewers.
A FAMILY IN THE DRIVEWAY
Jason tells his parents there are people in their driveway. They are dressed in red jumpers with sandals on. Gabe tries to wart them off but with no luck. When the family is inside the house Red Adelaide tells a story, mostly to regular Adelaide, but it’s meant for the whole family to hear.
When things take a turn for the worse, Adelaide and her family must do their best to save each other and themselves from the family in the driveway.
Jordan Peele did a great job telling the story. I like how he started in 1986 and takes you through the incident Adelaide experienced in the hall of mirrors without giving anything away. When he brings us (no pun intended) to modern day, Adelaide grown up and married with kids, the transition is smooth.
Peele doesn’t bore us unnecessary stories. We don’t need to see Adelaide growing up living with the trauma that took place in the hall of mirrors. He takes us straight from the frightened look on her face as a child, her parents having a disagreement on Adelaide’s demeanor afterward, to her as an adult. We are left to wonder what happened. And since Peele likes to throw twists into his movies, we try to think like him and come to our own conclusion.
PANNING SHOTS AND SLOW MOTIONS
I’m a big fan of pan shot and slow motions shots.
(pan shots)..the camera horizontally so that it sweeps around the scene. It can also be tilted up or down in a vertical panning shot or in a diagonal pan, as when it follows an actor up to a stairway.
Peele does this quite a bit in Us, or I think he does. Others may say different. The one pan shot that stands out to me is when young Adelaide comes up on Jeremiah Hill before entering the hall of mirrors. This scene as other pan shots is vital to the movie and should be paid attention to.
Slow motion shots are another favorite of mine for it allows you to take in the scene as it is happening while allowing you to focus on other things within or around the scene. These shots also allow you to focus in on the character’s expression and possibly feel what they are feeling, whether it’s fear, joy, anger, or sorrow.
WHEN ALL IS REVEALED
I have to say I was apprehensive about watching Us because I so disliked Get Out. But after watching Us it makes me want to re-watch Get Out for I know I missed something. As mentioned, the pace of the movie keeps you interested. When we see Adelaide with a family of her own, we are still left wondering what happened to her in the hall of mirrors. And when the family shows up in the driveway to shortly reveal they are carbon copies of Adelaide’s family, our minds can’t help but race, yet keep us at the moment.
When all is revealed towards the end of the movie, I found myself replaying the beginning of the movie in my mind. I watched this movie on Sunday. It’s now Tuesday and I can’t shake this movie from me. This is definitely a movie I will watch again. Oh, I won’t be visiting Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk again any time soon. Thanks, Jordan Peele.
Get Out has the same reveal, but for some reason I missed it. I will be rewatching Get Out and possibly rewriting my review.
Jordan Peele gave the cast ten horror films to watch so they would have “a shared language” when filming: Dead Again (1991), The Shining (1980), The Babadook (2014), It Follows (2014), A Tale of Two Sisters (2003), The Birds (1963), Funny Games (1997), Martyrs (2008), Let the Right One In (2008), and The Sixth Sense (1999).
Ironically, the name of the Tylers’ unhelpful virtual assistant, Ophelia, derives from the Greek “ophéleia,” meaning “help.”
In the beginning, the scene where the “Hands Across America” commercial is playing, a VHS copy of C.H.U.D. and the Goonies can be seen on the shelf to the left of the TV and a copy of the Right Stuff can be seen underground. C.H.U.D is about underground creatures and the Goonies takes place primarily in underground tunnels. The Right Stuff takes place primarily above ground and in orbit.
The use of the song I Got 5 On It appears to resonate with the main theme of the film. It tells of two guys each chipping in $5 to buy a $10 bag of weed, which like the scissors and the repetition of the number 11 within the film, is a combination of two things creating one whole, just like the Tethered themselves.
(source for trivia: IMDB)
Written and Directed: Jordan Peele
Runtime: 116 minutes
Release Date: 22 March 2019
Production Company: Monkey Paw Production