Jordan Peele’s “Us” opens Friday as the most anticipated horror movie of the spring.
The film received an “electrified reaction” after a screening at South by Southwest earlier this month, according to the New York Times, and currently has 100 percent favorable ranking by the top critics on Rotten Tomatoes.
Peele wrote and directed his debut film, Get Out, in 2017, which grossed $255 million and won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
Adding to the hype is that with the success of Get Out, which was made for $5 million, Us had a budget of around $20 million.
“I had about five times the budget on this one, which by movie standards is still not that expensive of a film,” the sophomore director told Indiewire. “That was the key for me. Otherwise, I may not have had my freedom. As a filmmaker, I also thrive with a certain restriction. I didn’t want to overreach with the budget and all of a sudden have a studio being responsible on me.”
Us is a home invasion story starring Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke (both starred in Black Panther) as Adelaide and Gabe Wilson. They play a husband and wife visiting Adelaide’s childhood home with their two children, Jason (Evan Alex) and Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) in tow.
A horrifying standoff ensues with four mysterious assailants antagonizing the Wilsons as they try to escape. Each of the attackers is the near-identical twin of a family member. Neighbors Elisabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker join the Wilsons making their escape much more difficult.
John DeFore praised the film in his review for the Hollywood Reporter
“Us offers twists and ironies and false endings galore — along with more laughs than the comedian-turned-auteur dared to include in his debut film, though probably more commercially limited by its genre than its hard-to-pigeonhole predecessor, it packs a punch,” wrote Defore.
Peele developed his comedic versatility through five seasons as a cast member of Mad TV, and three seasons on the much-lauded Key & Peele. He is a Daily Show alum, and has done voice-over work for the animated Bob’s Burgers.
Last year, he co-produced the Spike Lee film, BlacKkKlansman, which received six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture.
His penchant for the bizarre and the unexpected led him to host the Twilight Zone reboot this April.
One of Peele’s darkest characters in Us recites an Old Testament Bible verse reminiscent of Jules’ monologue in Pulp Fiction. Quentin Tarantino can relate to the pressure of the feared “sophomore slump.” After the success of his directorial debut Reservoir Dogs, he followed with Pulp Fiction, which went on to gross $213 million worldwide and is regarded as one of the best movies of all time.
With the initial critical acclaim for Us, it appears Jordan Peele could be on his way to becoming one of the great American directors of our age.