With an enticing promotional campaign, US has arrived with an added level of expectation. The various trailers promised a bold and confident premise with expert direction, and now that it's upon us the verdict is in... and I can confirm that it is – indeed - confident. As for bold and expert... not quite, as far as I'm concerned.
The Wilson family are spending their Summer vacation in Santa Cruz, a beachside resort with a waterfront amusement park. Their holiday is cut short, however, when a family of doppelgangers crash their house in an intense home-invasion, and wage a violent assault against them. The intruders are exact replicants of the mother, father, daughter and son, and through a series of flashbacks we discover that the mother experienced an incident 30-years ago, which determined the unfolding events. Obviously this is a layman's synopsis because to reveal more would be to unleash a world of spoilers upon you.
What I will say is that US is a formulaic film disguised as something important. Peele garnered a justifiable reputation for being an important voice. Get Out was an astute social commentary that coincided with a significant social movement, and the world has become so enamoured with him that people are expecting his next big statement. And while I have no doubt that there is a lot of allegory to be found, and that one viewing is not enough to tap into the film's layers, I can say without reservation that the story itself is wearisome and conventional.
Imagine Jordan Peele as a barman at a cocktail lounge and his personal concoction consists of a variety of spirits. Mix a little bit of The Strangers with Invasion of the Body Snatchers, followed by a shot of Disturbing Behaviour and a tipple of Funny Games. Garnish with a slice of Dawn of the Dead and the drink is called US.
Needless to say I wasn't impressed. It is a generally well acted (overacted at times) affair with notable effectiveness coming from the two child actors. They have a good understanding of the genre and give genuinely chilling performances. The adults, on the other hand, give hammy and feigned turns that venture into caricature territory. There is never a sincere sense of dread from them as their world is turned upside down by lurking menace. Instead they crack wise and find look for lame gags.
On the bright side, the one standout component to US is the phenomenon soundtrack and score. Composer Michael Abels's music is the heart and soul of the film, providing a pulsating, brooding and thematic sound design. His infusion of strings with trip-hop is amongst the most memorable film scores I can recall in recent memory and it - on its own - is worthy of accolades.
Obviously one passing of US makes for a secondary impression and it's impossible to be scholastic about it without further exploration. It is a film I would be happy to revisit on the promise of further discovery, however as of right now I have not been impressed and I cannot overlook the mundanity of it. It is full of improbabilities and inconsistencies that undermine the horror. There is a pretext that US is supposed to be important and that's a pretentious and shit-house way to approach a film.