“Us” captured the film worlds attention when it was given its wide theatrical release in late March. Written and directed by Jordan Peele this contemporary horror films premiered at SXSW and is now on Blu-ray. This genre bending film is available to add to your home entertainment collection and after watching the mass of bonus content included with it, I have to say it’s one not to be passed on. Nearly every film is given some sort of special-feature collection to add with the main title in the effort to create an appealing package. Some material is more substantial than others, but this release is loaded with insightful behind-the-scenes material that truly make it a companion piece to the actual movie.
Watching these features, then going back to see the film again opens a ton of added layering to the thought processes behind the concepts of the story-line. It provides meaning to the small details and navigates the mindset behind the subject matter. This to me is what makes the film a completely different experience when watching again. The knowledge that can be gathered from the special-features creates added perspective that in my opinion makes the film even better than it was when I watched it for the first time in the theater. Certain nuances show themselves much clearer once the creative inspiration behind the project is known in more detail.
We get the usual collection of deleted scenes as well as some scene specific explorations. Five of them in all that dive deeper into the standout scenes in the film. The in-depth look at these moments capture the motivation of the imagery, how they were constructed, and what intentions Jordan Peele hoped to conjure through these sections of the story-line. Each are loaded with behind-the-scenes footage that showcase the film-making process. And with Peele’s thorough examination, watching these scenes in the final film make them much more impactful. Probably my favorite of the features was a vignette called “Becoming Red” that looked inside the process of method acting. This one through the eyes of Lupita Nyong’o as she stayed in the character of the demented doppelganger Red. It was free of commentary and simply impressive to watch Nyong’o take such a serious approach to the preparation of this role.
Another excellently edited segment was called “Redefining a Genre: Jordan Peele’s Brand of Horror” where the cast share their feelings on Peele’s style of crafting horror. Peele has certainly been able to create grounded, realistic, and socially toned horror. He has been able to inject it with a simplistic, effortless humor that creates a fantastic combination of emotional responses. Peele himself also added to the insight in this feature as he explains more of mindset behind his film-making overall. He elaborates on the horror that inspired him, and how he prefers to create horror based around real human fears, while at the same time paying homage to the past in the genre. But still keeping it within his own voice and vision.
“The Monsters Within Us” was a great piece that looked much deeper into the dual roles that the cast would be playing. As well as how they prepared for playing two characters and the technical difficulties of filming the scenes in a way that would make them look seamless and realistic. This was extremely fascinating because it captured the attention to detail that was needed to pull these scenes off. “The Duality of Us” was a great feature that covered the inspiration of the plot from inside Peele’s mind. How the doppelgangers represent the notion of bad omens and how they embody the thought process of what ignoring the ramifications of privilege could look like. He also explains the inclusion of Hands Across America and the meaning of this event in the story. How it was more focused on promotion of good will, than it was actually making a change. And it was interesting to hear him delve deeper into how he wanted it to be woven into the backdrop of his script.
I tend to enjoy seeing how films are made and with this one having virtually eight characters played by four people, it was incredible to see how it was put together in the feature called “Tethered Together: Making Us Twice.” The creation of the look to the doppelgangers including the detail of the make-up design, to the clothing, to the language was covered in this segment. As well as how Peele wanted to keep a non-fantastical look to them in an effort to capture the true physical manifestations of seeing ourselves inside the monster of this movie and how Peele felt that was truly more sinister.
I had a great time with this film and loved it even more after taking in the wealth of knowledge that is available in the bonus-material. If you enjoyed this film, then this Blu-ray is a MUST HAVE. I would add that even if the film the first time watching was a miss for you. Give these features a shot, then re-watch the movie because I can guarantee you will see it through more informed and enlightened eyes, with the experience possibly be much different.