US cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from director Jordan Peele and Universal Pictures comes the tale of what happens when you look into the heart of US.

The Wilson family is heading on a little summer R&R at the beautiful coastal town of Santa Cruz, California. Gabe (Winston Duke) and wife Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) along with daughter Zora (Shahadi Joseph) and young son Jason (Evan Alex), each sees this time together in a different way.

Gabe’s first outing is to go to the beach in front of the Santa Cruz boardwalk but Adelaide isn’t as thrilled about the idea. When she was a child, something mysterious happened to her but she hasn’t shared it with anyone. Talked into it, she tries her best to make the day good for the family.

Returning home and evening falls, there are mysterious people in the Wilson driveway and when Gabe confronts them – the horror knocks down their front door. A family that looks like them has a mission and it could cost each family member their lives.

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Escaping the house the family tries to get help from friends Kitty (Elisabeth Moss) and Josh (Tim Heidecker) but it isn’t going to turn out as planned. What only one of the Wilson family knows is who they are and what they truly want – and they will never again be the same.

Nyong’o as Adelaide has a hidden secret in her character and the film takes its time in telling that part of the story. This actress invests not only the character of Adelaide number one but the absolutely terrifying version of Adelaide 2. She is captivating and has a mission that the Wilson family makes sort of easy for her to carry out – why? I’m not going to tell you why.

Duke as Gabe is that Dad who wants to make everyone happy while also having a good time with a beer in his hand and warm sand between his toes. He is also the Dad that has a baseball bat and isn’t afraid to swing it – the problem is that Dad 2 has an advantage and that’s his refusal to hesitate. Don’t let his size fool you as he is a husband who knows that Adelaide is strong willed so happy life, happy wife number one.

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Joseph as Zora is a teenager plugged into social media and making it perfectly clear that she is not happy about the beach or talking about college. When she literally runs against Zora number 2, trust me when I say the creepy factor is huge and it’s a look I’ll never forget. That being said, don’t think Zora 1 doesn’t get hip quick.

Alex as Jason is definitely a mama’s boy and Jason 2 is as well – with a gruesome exception. This young actor was seriously amazing and once again I don’t think it’s a face I am likely to forget anytime soon.

Moss as Kitty is that woman who just isn’t happy with anything and finds any reason to be a total bitch. Moss has the ability to be very sweet in her character portrayals but this is her chance to just totally let loose and go insane. Heidecker as Tim is like Gabe in some ways in that he just wants to sit back with a beer and relax but Kitty isn’t about to let him do that. It takes Tim 2 to at least have a chance to just be as crazy as he wants to be.

Other cast include Yahya Abdul-Matten II as Russel Thomas, Anna Diop as Rayne Thomas, Cali Sheldon as Becca Tyler, Noelle Sheldon as Lindsey Tyler and Madison Curry as young Adelaide Wilson.

FINAL WORD: Peele has taken the classic suspense film and given it just enough blood to keep me invested in the film. I am not a huge fan of gore films which I know may be a shock to anyone who knows I love thrillers. There is a difference between a thriller and a slasher film that has no storyline.

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US has a storyline and it doesn’t take long before you are whipped through the mental roller coaster mind of Peele. He doesn’t give away much, still adds a little cheesiness here and there, and picks an unlikely place to make it all work.

The cast makes this story work and work extremely well. There is a togetherness in the way these actors played the Wilson clan that brings you in quickly and keeps you there until the very…last…frame.

I adore Santa Cruz and, of course, never pictured it as a place where something like this story would take place. Recognizing every single location in the film from the boardwalk to the streets, just made it even more fun once I bought into the fact that yes, this could happen in Santa Cruz!

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This is a fun thriller romp through my favorite stomping grounds and don’t let the story get you all twisted. Go with the flow and let the Wilson family introduce you to the wonderful world of frights, fights and survival at all costs – and oh my what a high cost!

In the end – we are our own worst enemy!

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