Saturday, March 23, 2019

A FEW WORDS ON 'US'



Us is a pretty fun movie. Nothing more or less. Film snobs that aren’t in to horror (yet they somehow get paid by big film outlets to write about horror) will make up some pseudo sophisticated sub-genre or fancy label for US in order to make it ok for them to like horror movies as if the horror genre is beneath other movie genres. Critics & journalists also make up these labels in order to justify unnecessary acclaim. “Post Horror”, “High-art Horror”, “not really horror HORROR”, etc. Us is a horror movie. Straight up. 
Now...this is not a masterpiece or the greatest horror movie ever made (yes, Us has been called that by quite a few reputable folks who clearly just want to be quoted on the Blu-ray box cover). But it’s ok to not be a masterpiece. It’s ok for a movie to just be entertaining. Us certainly has a few deeper thematic elements beyond just entertainment. The movie is about people being terrorized & haunted by evil doppelgänger versions of themselves. It’s no mystery that this movie is about being your own worst enemy and the fight within ourselves and all that stuff (not to spoil anything, but in a movie with doppelgängers & parralel universes, you can kind of guess the basic twist that Us builds up to)


Even though Us is not a masterpiece, I don’t think it’s “meh” or “bad” or “terrible”. This is an entertaining movie. I’m no horror aficionado by any means (although I know more than some unqualified people writing about horror these days), but I’ve seen enough (good) horror movies to know that Us falls right in line with other scary movies that folks seem to enjoy.

The problem we’re facing right now is that people want every movie to be a masterpiece. If a movie is just pretty good without anything offensive or challenging it’s dubbed as genius. But at the same time - when a good/solid movie doesn’t change the world and falls slightly short, then people have to automatically hate on it just because and not allow it to be "good" or even "ok". I get it. When something that I feel is just “ok” or even “good” is labeled a masterpiece by the majority, I immediately withhold anything positive to say about it just to balance things out. Right now Jordan Peele is being called one of the best directors working today and the voice of a generation (yes, people are saying that). I honestly don’t think he's either of those things. Perhaps he’s working his way towards that. But give him some time. We’re two movies in to his feature filmography. Let him be a great director naturally & organically. Let’s not get patronizing and start throwing undue acclaim his way. As a Black person I understand the excitement other Black people are showing for Us. It’s a horror movie about a Black family and the movie isn’t about race (I’m sure there are some folks who will think otherwise). The fact that they’re Black isn’t a “thing”. So I understand when casual Black movie fans get overly excited for something like Us. There's no "beautiful struggle" or slave tales or other things people might consider stereotypical. It’s the same with women/young girls & Captain Marvel or Asians & Crazy Rich Asians. Representation is important. Be excited for your race, sexuality, gender, etc. The world isn’t just White people. But the representation can’t be fake or forced which is, unfortunately, a problem we’re facing in film & tv today (that isn’t the case with Us. The “representation” seemed natural to me). Don’t just praise something because the needs were met on a surface level. Ok – a major motion picture has a Black/Female/Latino/Trans/Asian lead. But is it genuine. Is the movie actually good?
I understand it's difficult to remove the racial angle from this movie. This is the follow-up to Get Out. On a side note - I'm starting to feel like Get Out is turning in to another Drive or Pulp Fiction in that they were/are culturally impactful (even on a surface level) but it's dividing folks. You have people giving over-praise which naturally forces people to dislike and reserve praise simply because that's how humans operate. 
Just enjoy the movie for what it is. It's fun. It didn’t save or revive the horror genre (every time people say something like that it exposes how clueless they are), but it also isn’t a bad movie.

I went to see Us because I enjoy Jordan Peele’s work and his appreciation for the cinema that came before him. Peele always makes it a point to shout-out old movies that inspired him so it isn’t out of line to draw (visual) comparisons between Us and classic horror movies that came before it...

Nosferatu / Us

The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari / Us


Even non-horror movies...
Black Girl / Us
Bamako / Us


I also like seeing my fiancee jump at scary movies which it certainly made her do.

So while this isn’t a masterpiece as far as I’m concerned, it’s still worthy of the ticket price and the big theater experience. I just don’t think it should be overly praised.

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