(US - 2019)
Written and directed by Jordan Peele. Cast: Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Anna Diop, Cali Sheldon, Noelle Sheldon, Madison Curry, Ashley McKoy, Alan Frazier. (R, 116 mins)
2017's GET OUT came along at the perfect moment in time to serve as zeitgeist-capturing, sociopolitical snapshot of American culture. It also earned a Best Screenplay Oscar for writer/director Jordan Peele, then best known for the sketch comedy stylings of KEY & PEELE and on nobody's radar to be named the next major player in the horror genre. But with GET OUT, Peele found his true calling and horror the most effective way to explore his concerns, and US, his follow-up effort, is even more conceptually ambitious if at times muddled in execution. Even before a late-film split-diopter shot, I was continually reminded of Brian De Palma while watching US--not because of its subject or its style, but in its methodical and precise construction. Every shot, every plot detail, and every visual element is there for a reason, so much so that it'll take multiple viewings to pick up everything. Peele is making much grander thematic overtures with US compared to GET OUT, and it gets away from him a bit in the home stretch in a way that shows his intentions are clear in his own head but they're maybe too unwieldy to communicate in the most succinct fashion. To that end, US is a film that works terrifically as a visceral horror experience, and its greater concerns give it some timely resonance and much for an attentive and engaged audience to discuss and debate when it's over.