Dominguez: ‘Us’ earns its universal terror through excellent filmmaking

A testament to his directorial excellence and relevance, Jordan Peele’s sophomore feature, “Us,” broke through the weekend as a box office force to be reckoned with. His debut film, “Get Out,” remains highly acclaimed as one of the most successful thrillers of the millennium.

Led by Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph, and Evan Alex, “Us” follows a family of four through their summer getaway to Santa Cruz. All is sunny until sinister doppelgangers, or tethers, appear at their doorstep and begin wreaking deadly havoc on the main characters — the married Adelaide and Gabe and their two children, Zora and Jason.

“Us” vividly displays the power and presence of blackness in the media. Peele implicitly shatters the horror movie trope where the token minorities are the first to be killed off. The representation in this film is not accidental, as asserted through Gabe’s Howard University sweatshirt and the use of Luniz’s “I Got Five On It” as the main musical theme of the film. Repurposing the melody from “I Got Five On It” as the movie’s haunting main theme is the first of many brilliant nuances throughout the two-hour runtime.

The horror of the film is conjured through every frame. There are no tacky jump scares or ploys to get a cheap reaction out of the viewer. Instead, the film stands as a psychological thriller that’s borderline sadistic in its terror.

The most appealing aspect of this film is its multiplicity. “Us” is doubtlessly a thriller, but at the same time, it’s comedic and aesthetically beautiful. The cinematography is to die for, the script is brilliant, and the editing of the film shines.

“Us” ticks all the boxes. It’s the type of film that will have you rooting for the underdog, yelling at the screen, and cheering with complete strangers sitting next to you when the protagonists narrowly escape danger. In this way, watching “Us” is an involuntarily interactive experience.

While the entire film is engaging and fast-paced, the climax of “Us” left me with my jaw agape, tears streaming down my cheeks, and hands shaking from anxiety and anticipation. Never in my life have I seen a cinematic sequence that moved me so harshly and intensely. Lupita Nyong’o gave the performance of a lifetime that left me in state of complete disarray.

“Us” proves that Jordan Peele is a visionary. He specializes in taking the mundane and mutating it into nightmare. His talent apparently transcends that of any other filmmaker currently in the mystery/thriller genre. With “Get Out” and “Us” already under his belt, Peele is giving new life to horror. Whereas many other thriller films quickly melt into cheap tricks and gimmicks, “Us” is not cheap, but theatrical gold.