ROGER THOMAS COLUMN: ‘Us’: Another thriller from Jordan Peele

Published 2:24 pm Thursday, April 4, 2019

When the 2018 Oscar slate of nominees were announced, a lot of heads turned.

(Now remember, these were the films that were honored for the year 2017.)
Among those films was a “horror thriller” entitled “Get Out.” Thrillers rarely get on the prestigious list; “Silence of the Lambs” is one notable exception. “Jaws” would be another.

Roger Thomas

Who would have guessed that “Get Out” would receive four Oscar nominations including Best Director, Best Actor, Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture of the year?

Only one of those category nominees actually won an award, but it was quite an accomplishment for a twisted horror film with a bold subtext of racism to become winner of the Best Original Screenplay Oscar.

The script was worthy and deserving of the acknowledgement from the Academy.

I liked “Get Out” a lot. More than I ever thought I would.

It kept surprising me, and that is always a great accomplishment for a director and a film.
Jordan Peele created something truly special.

After so much success, I was not surprised that we now have his follow-up.

There are several things l like about the new film. The atmosphere and setting has just the right tone. Much of the environment probably comes from the production design with a lot of input from Peele.

I also like the four central characters and the actors who play them. Peele created a fictional family and gave each of the four a unique personality. The film would have been less without the developed unique personalities.

Lupita Nyong’o, a 2018 Oscar winner for “12 Years a Slave,” plays the mother of the central family of the story. Her character is Adelaide Wilson. Her husband, Gabe Wilson, is played Winston Duke.

This couple’s two children are also central to the film: Shahadi Wright Joseph plays Zora Wilson and Evan Alex plays her younger brother, Jason.

This creative cast of four do fine work and are central to any success in this film.

However, the film itself does not approach the success of Peele’s previous film.

“Get Out” had a shocking story and a message about race in our nation in the 21st century.

Yes, it was a horror story.

But the commentary of “Get Out” on race in our nation is what truly pushed the story.

In the end, all the elements of “Get Out” weaved all the elements of a thriller, a political conversation and award-worthy entertainment.

“Us” never reaches the heights of “Get Out.”

I wanted it to. And, once again, it did scare me. There was one moment when my spine tingled from top to bottom. And many smaller scares in other places in the film.

But it never offered the thrills of Peele’s previous work. And more important, “Us” never has the weight of the previous film.

I knew about a third into “Us” it was not going to be as good as “Get Out,” but that is OK.

And that might satisfy many in the audience.

As a friend once said to me, “I go to the movies to be entertained. You want to be inspired at the movies.” To that I replied, “I am most entertained when I am being inspired.

In the end, I am looking forward to what Jordan Peele does next.

I may not like his next film as much as I liked “Get Out” or even “Us,” but I will be in a seat, watching and hoping that this next film will be Jordan Peele’s best ever.

Roger W. Thomas of Albemarle reviews films for The Stanly News & Press.