Jordan Peele’s Us is a very scary movie that doesn’t add up, which is too bad. Peele’s uber-nerd cinephilia—the clever echoes of such horror-canon treasures as Don Siegel’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, George Romero’s Day of the Dead, Michael Haneke’s Funny Games, and on and on—are non-stop fun (“Isn’t that the Lost Boys boardwalk?”). But then there are elements that feel as if they should be significant, yet in the end don’t signify anything (what’s with all the rabbits?). As a writer, Peele has more ideas than he can fit into one picture, and even his great gifts as a director—his skills in the areas of shot design, lighting and scoring, and his empathy for actors—can’t stanch the conceptual overflow.
Fortunately, the movie is, as noted above, very scary. And so even the untethered elements of the story can, for those in a generous mood, pass as puzzle pieces in the Lynchian manner, floating free in the movie’s dark tide of dread.