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Us (2019) - Blu-ray Review

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Us (2019)

Part home invasion thriller, part horror, and part social commentary, the only thing more impressive than the number of genre elements at play in Jordan Peele’s newest film, Us, is the total body count. Well, that and the incredible attention to detail the filmmaker pays to every single one of those elements. You might not like what the film has to say, but you’d be hard pressed to find many slips, errors, or faults in the way he says them.

After just one film into his promising career, it became quite clear what kind of filmmaker the Comedy Central star was going to become. His breakout hit Get Out highlighted Peele’s special talent for creating provocative, socially conscious horror films. And even before that film exited the box office charts, the horror masses were clamoring for a follow-up.

"Us is a near-brilliant sophomore effort from a director who is already at the top of his game just two films in"


Well, here it is in Us. Count yours truly as one who looked forward to Peele’s sophomore effort with equal amounts gleeful delight and cautious trepidation. How could a filmmaker possibly follow the dense, intoxicating encounter we all had with Get Out? Well, we now have the answer. Though it perhaps doesn’t carry the same social punch as Get Out, Us more than makes up for it with a meme factory’s worth of iconic cinematic moments, and enough thrills and chills to challenge any of Hitchcock’s best. You’ll find yourself sitting for days trying to mentally unravel this intricate puzzle.

The film is set in present day as the Wilson family is enjoying a nice vacation at their summer home near Santa Clara, California. They are a normal American family, close and loving, but we soon get the sense of a few lingering unresolved issues. There’s lovely Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years A Slave) who is returning to her beachside childhood home with husband Gabe (Winston Duke, Black Panther), and children Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph), and Jason (Evan Alex).

Via a series of disturbing flashbacks, we learn something about Adelaide’s haunting past that is causing her anxiety levels to elevate as she is unable to shake the uneasy feeling that something terrible is going to happen to the family. Those fears come true after the family returns from the beach to find the silhouettes of four figures standing in their driveway, refusing to leave. Things get even more harrowing when it is discovered that their pesky visitors are not only really bad people with evil intentions, but that they are also doppelgängers of themselves. Fending ourselves from ourselves. How’s that for a truly horrific premise!? After all, we are our own worst enemy, right?

The Tethered, as they call themselves – dressed in red jumpsuits and armed with giant metal scissors – soon begin their reign of terror upon the Wilson household. And terror is an accurate description. Make no mistake. Us is a hard-core, R-rated, straight-up horror film, and at times tips over into slasher as scissors, fire pokers, golf putters, and large blunt objects are used frequently on any vulnerable soft tissue and/or wayward body part.

Even though he does drop a few humorous plays on the irony of black vs. white behavior in horror movies, for the most part, Peele defies audience expectations with Us by not plowing head-on into the state of race and race relations as he did in Get Out. This time he’s more interested in putting the precarious nature of the American Dream in his sights. He intertwines the notion of class structure and the dichotomy of “the haves” vs. “the have-nots” with our innate fear of evil twins and spiritual doubles to create a delightfully exhilarating, and at times terrifying, modern day twist on the age-old B movie.Us (2019)

A stellar cast, headed by the brilliant double performance of Nyong’o (each actor played the doppelgänger as well as themselves) and featuring Elizabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale), Tim Heidecker (Portlandia) and the breakout performances from Wright Joseph and Alex, make the film work so wondrously well.

And then there’s the excellent score and perfectly curated soundtrack that heightens the film’s creep factor ten-fold. As they did with Flanagan and Allen’s rendition of Noel Gay and Ralph Butler’s Run Rabbit Run in Get Out, Peele and composer Michael Abels give us an orchestral title song that feels totally wrong and out of place as it plays over scenes of brutal violence, yet is, at the same time, perfect as the anthem of America’s immoral underbelly. And let’s not forget the hilarious use of N.W.A.’s F@#k Tha Police that was summoned by an errant call from the film’s version of Siri or Alexa. Funny stuff!

Humorous, violent, enthralling, and emotionally unsettling at times, Us is a near-brilliant sophomore effort from a director who is already at the top of his game just two films in. Can’t wait to see what he has in store for us with is reboot of The Twilight Zone TV series.

5/5

Us (2019)

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Universal
Available on Blu-ray
- June 19, 2019
Screen Formats: 2.39:1
Subtitles
: English SDH; French; Spanish
Audio:
English: Dolby Atmos; English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1; French: Dolby Digital Plus 7.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD-50, 1 DVD); Digital copy; Movies Anywhere; DVD copy
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Universal clearly loves this film and are proud of what they have done with this blu-ray + DVD + Digital release. And rightly so. From the clean crisp 2.39:1 transfer to the ominous Dolby Atmos audio track, the attention to detail they've given this release is only matched by that of Peele who is known for his meticulous attention to the finer aspects of filmmaking.

There are a lot of darks, lights, colors, textures, interiors, and exteriors in the film which makes for a sky-high degree of difficulty to get this transfer right. But I challenge you to find many flaws in what Universal has done here with this release. And they haven't scrimped on the extras either with more than an hour's worth of bonus material including interviews, conversations, deleted scenes, and additional footage that round out the experience to near perfection.

Video
To get the perfect illustration of the extraordinary quality of this transfer, check out the funhouse scene near the beginning of the film. In addition to the overall spooky-as-hell nature of the scene, it takes place mostly in the dark, inside a spook house, yet image edges remain sharp and never waiver while blacks stay consistently dark and dense with no artifacting and no noise whatsoever. Despite the dim lighting, there is also a lot of color in the scene and it always remains bright and perfectly saturated. The scene suddenly shifts to the title sequence that features the extended shot of the much-discussed rabbit's lair. The fine textures and bright whites of the rabbits' fur give us an up-close and personal look at the image sharpness. Every hair comes into perfect focus.

Audio
Then there's the fabulous Dolby Atmos audio track that brings the room to life with noises and sounds from all around. This is an audiophile's paradise as your home theater system remains in constant work mode to handle the load. Let's go back to those funhouse scenes. You'll hear creaks, moans, bangs, and screams that emanate from every square inch of your room - especially from above. In addition, there's that ominous score that keeps us on edge throughout. Hats off to the sound engineers, mixers, composers and foley guys on this one. This film is what home theaters were made for.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

We get a heaping handful of bonus features that total more than an hour of extra material. These mostly follow the same EPK-type format as most releases, but the difference here is the quality of the material that includes fascinating insight into the film from Peele himself. If you want to know more about what everything in the film means, stick around and check out these extras. Most are essential viewing.

  • The Monsters Within Us (04:45) - Jordan Peele and cast get into the motivations and preparations of the cast members. The discussion leads to the ins and outs of the duplicitous nature of the characters and how the actors saw themselves in their roles.
  • Tethered Together: Making Us Twice (07:29) - Cast and crew talk about the challenges of acting and shooting every character twice. There is also discussion of continuity difficulties, visual effects challenges, and the iconic look of the tethered.
  • Redefining a Genre: Jordan Peele's Brand of Horror (5:31) - Peele gets into his own personal relationship with the horror genre. The writer/director also gets into some of the specific films that have become his inspiration: films such as A Tale of Two Sisters, The Birds, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Night of the Living Dead, and Alien. We get some very interesting insight into many of the choices Peele made while creating Us.
  • The Duality of Us (09:56) - A look into the demented mind of Jordan Peele and his fascination with doppelgängers. Also gets into many of the film's themes and messages. Ever wondered about the Hands Across America sequence. Well, Peele gets into that as well some of the film's other iconic imagery imagery and religious connotations. This the best of feature of the bunch. If you watch none of the others, don't miss this one.
  • Becoming Red (04:09) - An interesting takeaway from this short if the fact that N'Yongo remained in character throughout much her role. The camera follows her face during one particular scene as Peele directs her actions while she remains in character throughout. Aspiring actors, pay attention.

Scene Explorations

  • Seven Second Massacre (02:41) - Close examination of the Tyler family massacre from the auteur himself.
  • It's a Trap (02:02) - Close examination of the fire scene and its goals.
  • I Just Want My Little Girl Back (02:53) - A close look at the upstairs/downstairs underpass sequence.

Deleted Scenes - I Am Not Even Near You; Rabbit Season; That's Badass; Driftwood;The P Is Silent; I Wanna Go Home

  • We're All Dying (06:22) - An extended take of the beach scene.
  • As Above, So Below: Grand Pas De Deux (05:02) - An Extended look at the ballerina scene.

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 5/5 stars
  Video  5/5 stars
  Audio 5/5 stars
  Extras 4/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

5/5 stars

Us (2019)

MPAA Rating: R for violence/terror, and language.
Runtime:
116 mins
Director
: Jordan Peele
Writer:
Jordan Peele
Cast:
Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss
Genre
: Horror
Tagline:
We Are Our Own Worst Enemy.
Memorable Movie Quote: "If you wanna get crazy, we can get crazy!"
Theatrical Distributor:
Universal Pictures
Official Site: https://www.usmovie.com/
Release Date:
March 22, 2019
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available.
Synopsis: A family's serenity turns to chaos when a group of doppelgängers begins to terrorize them.

Us (2019)

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