This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative
Us is a film about knowing how to play the matchups. Depending on your opponent you should absolutely be careful on if you attack or defend. The film has a pretty interesting premise which definitely has a lot more potential than most horror films although I wouldn’t say that it makes the most of this. Either way there’s a lot going on here with several points where you’d think it is the climax and the movie just keeps on going so you should get your fill of scares and intense moments.
The film starts off with a flashback where Addy ends up straying from the common path and goes to a mirror house by herself. She ends up being so scared that she could not talk for a long while and got fully traumatized. We then cut to the present where she is happily married and has a family with her husband Gabe and their two kids. Naturally Gabe is thrilled to be heading back to the summer house. It just so happens that this is the area where Addy had gone missing in the mirror house for a bit so she isn’t thrilled to be here. Weird things start to happen but it all comes to a head when a family appears in their front yard who appear to be alternate versions of the main 4. Who are these 4 and can Addy protect her family against them?
Like I said the film is more interesting than most horror titles so that is a plus here. The idea of a mirror world of doppelgangers running around is a classic for sure but you tend to see that more in a sci-fi or action setting. It’s more rare for a film like this and it makes the villains more interesting because in a way they are the main characters, just twisted versions of themselves.
I also thought the film had really good technical elements. The visuals during the flashback are very good as the storm is realistic and I liked the mirror house. I also thought that the music that played during the opening credits was really good. Throughout the movie there was a lot of fun music themes that had a very eerie feel to them. You knew that something was not quite right the whole time. I can’t say that all of the songs were a hit, typically the lyrical ones weren’t quite as solid but the spooky themes were on point.
So those are mainly the strengths of the film. For the weaknesses you do have the usual excessive violence that comes with the territory. You would not be out of place calling this one a slasher by the end. In particular the most violent scene here was definitely with the neighbors. Their deaths are the most violent by far and while they were meant to be rather annoying characters, it seemed a bit much. Particularly as the one who got it the worst off was the nicest one who at least tried talking to Addy normally.
If you cut that sequence of scenes out I would say the film would be noticeably less violent as a result. One technique that backfired was how course the main villain’s voice was. I guess it’s supposed to be spooky or creepy but it could just be a little hard to hear her and she also spoke so slowly that you would wait for her to get to the point. I also thought it was a missed opportunity that none of the others could talk since we could have had some interesting conversations otherwise.
The main characters do have quite a bit of plot armor though. You’ll quickly notice that the villains murder everyone else immediately but with the main characters they tend to just be beating up on them the whole time which ultimately tends to come back to bite them. Otherwise the main characters definitely should have died several times over in this film. Plot armor comes with the territory a lot of the time but it just felt more glaring here than in other titles.
Now lets talk about the biggest mistake the characters make and that’s that they don’t play the matchup well at all. So from the start we have the villains out in the front yard. I thought Gabe handled this well at first, warning them and then grabbing the baseball bat as the heroes called the cops. Where things did not go well is when he decides to try and keep the door shut while holding his baseball bat. A baseball bat is an offensive weapon so when you pick that up you have to be prepared to use it. Hide behind the door or on the other side and swing. You can’t be pushing while holding onto the bat because then you can’t use it. What ends up happening is you are now putting yourself in double danger here for no reason.
It backfires and Gave is injured for the rest of the film as a result. It gets worse once we have the face off with the 4 on 4 setup. While I liked the idea that they were setting up for a bunch of 1 on 1 fights as if this was a Shonen Jump or Comic Book movie, the heroes let the villains have the initiative all the way. For starters you should never let yourself get tied up. There’s no winning there so Addy should have refused and tried to fight. Then each hero is chased off by their evil counterpart for 1 on 1 fights where none of them seem to have a real chance of winning. Aside from plot armor they all should have died in those encounters.
We do get a random guy who looks pretty bad here as he approaches the alternate Zora though. Look if it’s the dead of night and there’s someone on your car with a giant knife you probably shouldn’t just walk over there right? You’d think he would have handled that a little better but he didn’t and got wrecked for it. So the whole time I was just thinking that the characters played the matchup horribly. They lost their homefield advantage and never took the initiative in the fight.
As the film goes on Addy gets more and more used to combat though and takes quite a few of the villains out. Ultimately she was quite impressive there. Addy works well as the main character. She grows more and more unhinged as the film goes on but never loses sight of her goal to protect the family and ends up being a really solid lead. Gabe is also a solid character. It’s a bit annoying with how he got injured early on and didn’t really get to fight despite talking so tough but he still takes out his share of enemies. He’s a fun guy and tends to see the bright side of things. I thought he did well as the other lead.
Zora may not be as impressive as the main 2 but she does ultimately join in on the action and realizes that everyone needs to help. She does well with her weapon and once she is armed she ends up being on guard for the whole film. Jason’s more on the annoying side. He gets his big moment and all but he’s just a little too young to help out in most of the scenes so I think it might have helped if they could have aged him up just a little.
As for the villains, most of them are mindless aside from the main one. The main villain is interesting and I thought she did well in her role. She wastes too much time gloating but of course that’s something that most villains do so I wouldn’t take a lot of points off for that or anything. She’s a solid fighter and did well to plan things out long-term. Ultimately that’s the kind of main villain you want to see.
The neighbors were mainly just annoying so not much to say about them. The wife at least seemed reasonable but the husband and the two kids were just jerks for no reason the whole time. The way the film ends you could definitely run it back with some sequels or just imagine how it plays out in your head. Each way works out well enough since there’s just so much you can do with this. Of course that goes back to what I was talking about with the film not reaching its full potential. I’d love to see how the rest of the world is handling this. The small scenes we get with the recording are some of the most interesting scenes in the film.
Now this might be a hot take but for horrors and mysteries the first half will usually always beat the climax. It’s more applicable for long running titles but the less you know, the more engaged you are. Once you start finding out the answers it inevitably won’t be able to match the suspense you were feeling in the first half or the theories you already had in mind. So if you were to have a bunch of sequels then Us may start to lose some of that mystery but there’s so much content that I think we can pull this off for a while. Lets see the big battles between the humans and the alternates and then play things out from there. Well, next it’s time to talk about some of the spoilers to give my take on all of this. Skip the next six paragraphs if you haven’t watched the film yet because it’s about to get real spoilery over here. The twist was also set up very well with a lot of moments that tie in to the outcome. Now I may have a few qualms with specific character moments relating to the twist but you can’t say that it came out of nowhere. It’s better to experience the twist normally which is why I gave this really long warning first.
Okay so it turns out that there are a whole bunch of clones that exist in the mirror dimension. A long time ago, someone tried creating clones of everyone with a new soul but they failed and so instead you had an empty body with half of a soul. This caused the clones to be tethered to the originals. They all live in an abandoned subway/facility looking place where they are forced to mimic the actions of the originals. The film does a great job of illustrating how this works with the clones bumping into walls and everything as they mindlessly follow the actions. They have no free will but do seem to have a conscious so they know what is happening but are powerless to stop it.
In a way it’s quite the dark fate for these guys. Well, one day someone cut the strings so to speak on one clone, the clone of Addy. She was then able to trade places with the real one and escaped back to the real world. At this point the human Addy had to pretend to still be doing the same things as a clone but of course she did have free will. Down the road she was able to break the curse on the others and they all went to enact revenge on the Earth which brings us to the current scenes. It’s a very interesting backstory here and one that should leave you with some more questions and interpretations.
So how I see it, the film is hinting at a higher power cutting the strings here. I’d say that a god created a second Earth effectively that’s in a different dimension which mirrors the first but for some reason this failed. He decided to give them one chance at a rebellion and did so by releasing reverse Addy. Throughout the film we see references to Jeremiah 11-11 which says: “Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them.”. So the film seems to be implying that this is the evil that is coming upon the land to destroy the humans. Quite the dark twist of events.
It can always be a mixed feeling incorporating elements of the Bible into a film like this where it’s into the realms of fantasy and may end up trying to give people the wrong idea but I like to think of it as the film acknowledging that the Bible is still the most influential book of all time and that even those who don’t believe in it will recognize an element from it. It’s also a quick way to hint at what’s happening without launching into a whole lot of exposition.
So yeah that’s why I think in this film a god was behind reverse Abby’s ability to make a move. Otherwise it shouldn’t have been possible to capture Addy since she can only mirror moves and not do her own. From there I’m guessing the clones aim to destroy all of humanity so they will replace us as the originals. It’s an interesting idea but I like to think we wouldn’t go down without a fight so that’s where the sequel would come in. From what we saw the humans have been getting wrecked so I really would have liked to have seen some other humans as well. I can’t believe that every human lost to their counterpart, cmon now. That’s not happening.
Considering that the Addy we saw for most of the film was actually the other version I do think that in hindsight she should have reacted a little differently in the confrontations. As mentioned earlier, that’s my one small thing that pops out after the twist. The twist itself makes sense, no doubt about that but in that case would she really be surrendering so quickly and be afraid of these guys? Addy was determined enough to make a move back in the origins and would do anything to make sure she doesn’t go back to the mirror world so with that in mind I feel like it would play out differently. Of course, she was a kif at the time so this may just be her personality. It’s a lot to think about and you could even go in circles at times but that’s why the twist was so effective.
So that’s it for the spoilers. You’ll have fun theory crafting while watching the film for sure. In the end the only main issue I had with the film aside from the violence would be that it could be a little dragged out at times. Like I mentioned, the film covers a lot which is good but other times it feels like the movie’s being a little overdramatic and you’re just waiting for the next scene. One such moment is when the two kids go in the house to save Addy. The music starts so you’re ready to roll but then they walk up the stairs at an extremely slow pace, look back a few times, grab some objects, keep walking, etc. It feels like ages to get up the stairs and there are other scenes like that where it takes a little too long to build up the suspense. It’s probably worth the trade off as the long length lets you do a lot of other things including actually having a real climactic battle at the end but some scenes definitely could have been trimmed.
Overall, Us is very interesting and that’s why there’s so much to talk about here. It’s a film with a unique premise that you don’t typically see in horror. If you just toned down the violence then this would jump up quite a bit. I could also go with the alternate versions being a little more intelligent so we could have some conversations but to a point that would turn this into a completely different movie. If you’re up for an intense film then this one could be up your alley but ultimately I would have to recommend you check out Crisis on Two Earths instead for another look at how to deal with alternate versions. It always brings up a lot of interesting questions to think about for sure and while there is none planned that I know of, I hope the film does get a sequel.