Us (Blu-ray Review)

After finding unquestionable success with Get Out, Jordan Peele is back with Us. As writer, director, and producer, Peele is in full control here, and he has used his power as a filmmaker to deliver another fresh, scary, and darkly humorous film. More than simple descriptors, however, is seeing how Us moves into territory that has very little in common with Peele’s previous film. Rather than deliver another contained social thriller speaking to the ills of race relations taken to an extreme, here is an expansive look at the crumbling of the American experience made possible by the darker sides of the human condition. After earning rave reviews and a hefty amount of money at the box office, Us now arrives on Blu-ray with a nice set of extras to help a viewer explore the film even further.


Us follows an all-American family, a well-educated, middle class, black family, to be exact, during a trip to their vacation home in Santa Cruz, CA. Dorky Gabe Wilson (Winston Duke) is the father to phone-obsessed Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and curious Jason (Evan Alex). Gabe’s wife Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) sits right beside him on the car ride, though she has a lingering feeling of dread, returning to an area where she experienced a childhood trauma hinted at in the film’s opening.

After a day of settling into their vacation, which included meeting up with friends Kitty (Elisabeth Moss) and Josh (Tim Heidecker), the Wilson’s prepare for a quiet evening, only to be disrupted by a mysterious set of trespassers. More specifically, the happy family is besieged by a group of evil doppelgangers who seem intent on causing them harm.

It’s very apparent that Jordan Peele is a horror movie geek. The camera work, score, and costume design all speak to a filmmaker dead-set on putting a vision out there that is both original and informed by those who helped inspire him. In this case, it is easy to look at The Shining as just one of the many films Us feels attributed to. And yet, Peele is not looking to become the next Stanley Kubrick. Peele’s handling of tension and his deft ability to balance this horror atmosphere with a sense of humor speaks to a style that is unique to itself. It’s not that no other horror filmmaker hasn’t trafficked in similar territory, as we are instead seeing Peele continue to step forward in his own shoes.

With a proper handle on craft, Us is a well-oiled machine fueled by the atmosphere, thrills, and surprise. While the opening builds up to the sort of rush audiences may be looking for when watching the sophomore effort from the director of Get Out, the rest of the film feels like an appropriate pivot from expectations. Establishing the family takes as long as it needs to and a larger budget allows for a grander establishment of the areas we’ll be contending with at different points. For a home invasion movie that warps into some kind of Body Snatchers film, Us has many moving parts and gear shifts in what is being delivered, and yet it never feels like it is taking on too much for its own good.

At nearly two hours, Us covers a lot of ground, though it makes a conscious choice in how to explain its mysteries. I can already sense the level of frustration that could be had by many in this modern age as far as seeing a film that doesn’t choose to hold the audience’s hand for the sake of clearing up every detail. However, even after having a handle on what it is these doppelgangers known as “The Tethered” are after, it feels like audiences will only be rewarded by revisiting this film multiple times.

Clues are indeed all over the place, though Us is not a guessing game. Unraveling the plot comes second or third to taking in the poignant analogies in regards to class and witnessing these spectacular and very specific central performances (each actor providing two distinct characters). Taking in only the structure of the film and where it all leads is beside the point when considering how the film tackles being one’s literal own worst enemy. Attaching that concept to a world that twists an idyllic depiction of family fun into a terrifying realization of how divides can affect us all speaks to the wit Peele has packed into his screenplay. Leaning on a supernatural element to accomplish this may lead to questions, but I was more than satisfied with how Us chose to explore its central conceit.

Only adding to all of this are the actors who allow the film to balance out possible readings of Us as an explicitly political film. Duke, who won many over as the commanding M’Baku in Black Panther, revels at the chance to pile on the dad jokes. When matched with himself, his alter ego is a massive brute, barking his way towards personal mayhem. The kids, Alex and Wright Joseph, work as innocent siblings, only to show a deep menace as their evil doubles, invoking fear in primal ways. Moss also has the chance to deliver on some chilling moments of danger, as the film ramps things up to incorporate more of a world seemingly being overtaken by a nightmarish concept.

The film rightfully belongs to Nyong’o, however, who does not disappoint in her first true leading role, since bursting onto the scene with her Oscar-winning performance in 12 Years A Slave. As Adelaide, we can see the love she has for her family, in addition to the trauma that’s been affecting her throughout her life. As her evil double, we watch an entirely different person move with the chilling grace of someone who has methodically planned to help spring the most heinous of traps on the world around her. With a voice that feels like Nyong’o is speaking with a collapsed lung, it’s all the more impressive to see this malevolent force portray just as many emotional layers as the mother fighting for her and her family’s lives.

Whether or not Us needs to be in a conversation about how “elevated” the horror genre has become or can be, it is worth crediting all of Peele’s collaborators for this venture. I can specifically note composer Michael Abels, who finds all of the right ominous notes to play, which is accompanied by the wonderful sound design. There’s also cinematographer Mike Gioulakis, who focuses on the angles needed to turn the ordinary into something otherworldly, not to mention some balletic moments in his handling of fight scenes with added wrinkles to the concept of “kill or be killed.”

Knowing that red jumpsuits and golden scissors will soon be a Halloween staple is a good sign, but merely one of the many after effects Us is sure to have. The film has an unnerving edge, with enough implications and ideas that are sure to be discussed for some time. Not flinching in the face of logic manages to go over quite well given the immediacy of what we see by following the Wilson family, each of whom is expertly acted. There are indeed questions that may remain unanswered, but the topics brought up and filtered through Peele’s wicked vision seem far more interesting. Given what he’s delivered before and now, whatever’s next for Peele, he’ll likely have us again.



Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Clarity/Detail: Universal has no reason to do wrong by Jordan Peele, which is why it’s no surprise to see such a wonderful transfer here for Us. With such a precise handle on how to visualize his ideas, the shot choices lend themselves to some great imagery, which is seen clearly throughout. The level of detail on display is wonderful as well, taking into account costume design, and other quirky factors such as the look of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.

Depth: There’s an excellent level of dimensionality on display here. It comes across in seeing the various doppelgangers in the same frame, as well as some wider shots of everything taking place at one time.

Black Levels: Black levels are generally consistent, deep, and inky throughout. Everything looks natural, with no signs of crush. There’s a lot of darkness in this film, so it’s great to see it coming through so well.

Color Reproduction: For all the elements that suggest this is a bleak picture, the colors on display go the distance in standing out. Case in point: the red jumpsuits standout in such an impressive way for this transfer. The color pops off the screen, which can also be said for the various Santa Cruz summer attire, as well as intense scenes leading to bloodshed.

Flesh Tones: Facial textures register very well. You get a good amount of detail when looking at the characters up close. Given the use of split diopter, it’s great to see it all register so well.

Noise/Artifacts: This is a very cinematic feature and has nothing to be concerned with.



Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby Digital 2.0, Spanish and French Dolby Digital Plus 7.1

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French

Dynamics: Thanks to both the score and the now iconic use of “I’ve Got 5 On It,” Us has more than enough afforded to it on an audio standpoint to satisfy anyone looking for an immersive horror experience. The Dolby Atmos audio track provides the viewer with all that could be asked for in delivering on the wild sound design in place to capture the quieter and more intense moments. It makes for a spooky experience fit with the tone of the film.

Low-Frequency Extension: The LFE Channel gets enough to work with, as some action-based moments let the subwoofer have things to play with.

Surround Sound Presentation: The surround presentation has everything needed to make this twisted story come to life in your home. The Atmos setup is put to good use here, no question.

Dialogue Reproduction: Everyone sounds loud and clear.


There’s a good number of extra features here that look at various aspects of the film. None of them are all that long, which is a shame, but the information is still welcome. I also feel we missed out on getting an excellent commentary track, after hearing Peele speak so well about Get Out, but I’m still happy he didn’t hold back in explaining many of the key themes in some of the featurettes present.

Features Include:

  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 6:28) – I Am Not Even Near You, Rabbit Season, That’s Badass, Driftwood, The P is Silent, I Wanna Go Home
  • Scene Explorations (HD, 7:37) – A look at the making of three key sequences from the film: Seven Second Massacre, It’s a Trap, I Just Want My Little Girl Back
  • The Monsters Within Us (HD, 4:45) – A brief intro to the cast members and their dual roles.
  • The Duality of Us (HD, 9:56) – Jordan Peele delves into the themes and imagery of the film, which is a real treat for fans of the film.

  • Tethered Together: Making Us Twice (HD, 7:29) – A look at the process of making a film that requires the actors to play dual roles, which includes a look at the design choices.
  • Redefining a Genre: Jordan Peele’s Brand of Horror (HD, 5:31) – Peele discusses his inspirations and relationship with the horror genre, and how it can play with comedy effectively.
  • Becoming Red (HD, 4:09) – A closer look at Lupita Nyong’o’s performance as Red, and the challenges involved. What’s shown are essentially outtakes of Nyong’o in between takes, where she remains in character.
  • We’re All Dying (HD, 6:22) – Outtakes between Winston Duke and Tim Heidecker.
  • As Above, So Below: Grand Pas de Deux (HD, 5:02) – An extended version of the dance sequence from the film’s underground climax.
  • DVD Copy of the Film
  • Digital HD Copy of the Film


Jordan Peele continues to impress with his directorial efforts. Moving past any sign of a sophomore slump, Peele has made a film that speaks to a lot of different thoughts concerning America today, while also providing a feature that’s entertaining for all its freaky and humorous ways of delivering on its twisted narrative. Us also looks and sounds excellent, thanks to a strong technical presentation. Not hurting is the solid set of extras that do well to provide further expansion on what audiences are seeing (and if you want to hear more from an outside perspective, I have two podcast episodes going over the film as well). As one of the early event films of 2019, this was one not to miss, but feel free to catch up with it or take it home, as it shows more ambition than plenty of other big studio movies out there these days.

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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