“Us” Continues Legacy of Director Jordan Peele

Jordan Peele, former star of the Comedy Central sketch series “Key and Peele,” shocked audiences around the globe with his thriller “Get Out” in 2017. This time the comedian took another hand at directing, writing and producing a horror movie titled “Us” which premiered on March 22.

In contrast to “Get Out” which focuses on race issues in America, his new nightmare “Us” centers on a problem that everyone has: confronting oneself. The plot follows a family who encounters a band of murderous individuals that look like eccentric versions of themselves when they are on a vacation in Santa Cruz. Dressed in red jumpsuits and holding golden shears, they stop at nothing to try and kill the family.  

The production value and filming style of “Us” made the movie breathtaking and encapsulating. All of the popular culture references Jordan Peele includes such as the repeated imagery of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” in the film add to the mystery of the movie’s message. The symbolism of the red jumpsuits and gold scissors among other items such as bunnies keeps the audience engaged from the first scene to the last. The end was shocking and enlightening, as it was hardly predictable. The gore was included precisely, without any excessive violence and the score was wonderfully crafted.

The actress that plays both Adelaide and Red, Lupita Nyong’o (“Twelve Years a Slave,” “Black Panther”), has received backlash after her performance. Nyong’o claimed that the raspy voice that she exercised for her portrayal of Red was inspired by a neurological condition called spasmodic dysphonia. According to NBC News, it “impacts people who have experienced emotional or physical trauma.” The condition “causes a person’s voice to go into periods of spasm,” providing a slow and raspy sound.

Nyong’o put serious consideration into developing this voice, and by the end of the movie the reasons for why Red’s voice sounds how it does becomes more clear. To prepare for her role she consulted with throat doctors to make sure she was doing the voice in a way that wouldn’t harm her vocal chords. During her interview on talk show  “The View,” Nyong’o apologized saying “The thought that I would, in a way, offend them was not my intention.”

Supporters of Nyong’o’s performance point out the many respected portrayals of characters with various conditions and diseases. A notable performance is Tom Hanks in “Forrest Gump” acting as man with Autism. A Twitter user @shaybabeforver pointed out that Nyong’o is bringing awareness to the disorder, saying, “do NOT apologize for doing your job. Do NOT apologize for enlightening millions of us on a disability we didn’t even know existed. Do NOT apologize for giving us an amazing work of art and talent that other do not appreciate. Do NOT apologize.”

On the other hand, some people with the condition don’t want to be portrayed in a creepy way. One Twitter user @DanaMarieBullo1 explains her perspective: “As a young adult living with Spasmodic Dysphonia for over 10 year I am completely offended by the misinformation and insensitivity by others towards SD. Living with this life changing condition is hard enough but to be labeled ‘creepy’!? #USmovie @Lupita_Nyongo @JordanPeele”

Despite the backlash, “Us” has been largely successful. Before it was officially released, it received a 100 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes, similar to the performance of “Get Out,” which is significantly difficult to achieve. Additionally, “Us” broke America’s record for the largest opening of a movie with a black female lead.

“Us” is a perfect movie for those who are interested in thrillers or horror flicks. With rampant symbolism and skillfully placed twists and turns in the plot, this movie keeps the audience engaged for the entire two hours and one minute of its runtime. Even people who aren’t normally fans of scary movies flock to Peele’s films.

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