- The key scene of "We" faces an African-American family and their doppelgangers.
- The latter want revenge and let the audience soon hope for a horror film full of profound metaphors.
- Unfortunately, Jordan Peele's "We" disappoint and seem as if the director wanted to show that he can compete with his commercially successful colleagues.
The image, which immediately burns into the memory, keeps the horror still wonderful in the balance. There are four people, immobile at night in the entrance of a bourgeois estate. They hold hands and stare at the front door. Schemes in the light of the streetlight, only their outlines hint at a family: a bearded, gigantic father, a mother with short hair, a tall teenage daughter, a strange boy with a mask. So they stand there, mute and enigmatic.
Four other people are looking from the outside, extremely worried: the Wilson family. The bearded and tall father grabs the baseball bat. The mother calls the police. The daughter has put away her smartphone, her eyes are wide-eyed. And the son, who likes to wear masks, pronounces the obvious: "That's us."
This is the key scene of Jordan Peele's "we" – the moment when everything is still possible. The film runs about fifteen minutes, and the associations that are in the process of momentarily awaken fear and desire and hope at the same time. Do not we all have doppelgangers who could completely throw our lives off track? An ancient motif, rich in roots in world literature.
And if such duplicates exist out there, would they be well-disposed to us? Who knows. Holding them by the hands does not indicate social skills, cohesion, empathy, humanity? You should be able to talk to them!
The mother of the killer family soon pronounces it, in a harsh voice: "We are Americans"
Nice idea, but uh … no. The next few minutes make painfully clear that the police will not come so soon, that these strangers are very strong and very angry, and that they want revenge – beat, injure, kill. But why? What has upset her so much? The horror film imagined as a viewer at this moment is so rich in references and metaphors that you can hardly wait for the rest of the story.
Because the African-American family Wilson, who is attacked there, is intact and full of love and without material worries, that has been carefully introduced. It escaped, if you will, the American genocide of slavery, it did not allow itself to be destroyed by the inherited traumas, it held course for freedom, nonchalance, bourgeoisie: survivors.
But what about the not so happy ones? The lynxes, shot dead, rotting in jail, fatherless, overdosed, exploited? Are they perhaps forming a shadow army, a zombie army of the disenfranchised? The mother of the killer family soon pronounces it, in a harsh voice: "We are Americans". Does everyone here have an angry revenant, possibly the spawn of a black survival guilt syndrome, disfigured by hate and addiction – what he would have become as his own worst enemy? It seems so well imaginable that you would even believe it without explanation.
Which of course is due to the fact that here is an African-American horror expert at work. Jordan Peele, who actually comes from the comic, has proven in his predecessor film a sensational sense of the dark undercurrents of his country to which the racism clings like an indelible birth defect. "Get Out" was a horror hit and a milestone of the black cinema, which was awarded the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. In the resolution, although a crude Frankenstein number – but the way there was brilliant. A young black man being taken by his white girlfriend to a slave-keeper's estate in the south, where her very liberal parents soon seem as suspicious to him as her black housemaids-that offered recognition moments from a present day, in race problems still like treadmills lurking in the surface, leading to ever more disturbing strangeness and scary effects.
Correctly underlying social analyzes succeed in horror film only very few
It is hoped, then, that this will continue to be as clever as possible, with violence and exclusion and rebellion, a heartlessly divided society, the fortunate ones who want to stay among themselves, and the damned who seek entry. And in the moment when all this is already tangible in the air, "We" actually appears like the definitive film work to the present.
But then the moment passes by. Because somehow it is already in the direction that you have imagined, but unfortunately not as relational as hoped. As soon as the invaders have taken control of the household – the father Wilson is once incapacitated on the ground, mother Wilson is handcuffed to the coffee table – feel the doppelganger the urge to explain itself. At least the wife of the violent antidote is able to speak the language.
Unfortunately, the story she tells is not the history of America. It's the story of a government conspiracy from the deep B-Pictures universe, a bit ridiculous and a bit harmless, at least without the hoped-for historical momentum. One does not want to reveal who the "chain" is and why the moment of great "decadence" has come – it is enough to know that he is strongly reminiscent of a zombie apocalypse, as one knows from many other horror movies, and that he by no means only concerns the Wilsons. However, these turn out to be increasingly good at moving to a violent counterattack, and not only clean up among their own doppelgangers.
Director Jordan Peele apparently wants to prove that he can keep up with all his commercially successful colleagues in killing thrills and zombie killing humor, and he absolutely can – his sense of camera and timing is impressive. The actors, who all play double roles, in which they also almost go to their own throats, also do their thing convincingly – especially Lupita Nyong'o, who, as mother Wilson and her dark doppelganger, is increasingly moving into the center of the narrative.
And yet – the expectations of this second film were high, and in the end one would have hoped for more. To stage thrills many, subterranean social analyzes succeed in the horror film only a few. Jordan Peele has already shown how well he can do it with "Get Out" and hopefully he will continue in that direction. Because he is always best when the horror is already in the air – but everything is still possible.
Us, USA 2019 – Director and book: Jordan Peele. Camera: Mike Gioulakis. With Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss. Universal, 116 minutes.