Sunday Morning! “Us” (2019)

Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does many things. He is the author of the forthcoming book "The Paris Bureau" from Dio Press (early 2021).

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26 Responses

  1. InMD says:

    I’m not reading your piece because I plan on seeing the movie. Having a toddler means there’s a 99.99% chance that I won’t be able to do so until it’s available on demand. I am a big horror movie fan, especially when they let it get weird.

    My question: from a pure genre perspective is it a good one? I thought Get Out was ok, but not great. My experience with it probably suffered greatly from pre-viewing hype.Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to InMD says:

      I thought it worked pretty well as a horror movie. I find I’m about mid-range picky about horror movies, so there’s definitely horror fans who will be harder on the movie than I was. But I definitely think it’s much more of a horror film than Get Out and definitely more frightening.Report

  2. Marchmaine says:

    Unlike InMD I read your piece because I’m not planning to see the movie… I really liked your precis and appreciate the take (honestly, no snark); and, as far as I’m concerned, that’s the way to consume horror; summarized by another who suffered through it (honestly, with snark).

    But mostly I was gratified that my high-brow disdain has been upgraded to middle-brow disdain. Exactly the right type of disdain for our Nation’s present moment. Therefore, I’d like to take this opportunity to announce my intention to run in the Democratic Primary for the Office of President…

    [Seriously, nicely done]Report

  3. Doctor Jay says:

    Apparently Nyongo is catching some flack for her description of how she developed the voice.

    One gets the sense that if she had just remained silent about how she developed the idea, nobody would have a problem with it. And, at the same time, I understand people getting tired of associating disabilities with evil. I have no answers.

    I haven’t seen it, but it sounds interesting. Thanks for the piece.Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to Doctor Jay says:

      That’s a shame. Her performance is amazing- remember she plays the heroine of the film and the central villian and basically carries the picture. My understanding was the character had a crushed trachea. But I don’t know what that would do to your voice.Report

  4. Saul Degraw says:

    Generally, I don’t like horror as a genre for two reasons:

    1. They are too gorey for me; and/or

    2. The internal logic that they need requires a lot of what Ebert called Idiot Plotting. I.e., the plot only develops because one or more of the characters is acting like an absolute idiot and doing things that no half-way reasonably person would do under any circumstances.Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Yeah, it’s definitely much more satisfying when the characters get out of perilous situations through their wits. I thought the characters were fairly intelligent. There was a good joke with an Alexa type device mucking things up.
      I don’t think the movie was terribly gory, but there was a murder scene that definitely felt cruel. It didn’t bother me, but I was watching stuff like Dawn of the Dead in elementary school, so I’m probably a lousy judge.Report

    • InMD in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I think the advancement of plot through idiocy is the primary element that distinguishes the good, from the bad, from the funny/so bad they’re good.

      In the good ones the plot doesn’t advance through idiocy at all, or if it does, it’s a sort of understandable idiocy (violating quarantine in Alien for example).

      In the bad it’s just idiocy, usually with some sort of heavy handed red herring or (poorly) contrived character motivation thrown in to try and gloss over it. Nearly every horror movie on Netflix is like this.

      In the horror comedy/so bad its good they either do the smart thing and it fails (Return of the Living Dead, and arguably Get Out could fall into this) or the stupid/wrong thing yet it somehow succeeds (Sean of the Dead).Report

    • George Turner in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      There are very simple rules that horror movies have to follow, clearly laid out in “The Cabin in the Woods” (2012). I highly recommend it because it explains so much that normally isn’t stated.


  5. James K says:

    I finished Cixin Liu’s Three Body Problem trilogy last week. I enjoyed them a lot, though they are very dark. In a lot of ways they remind of of the sci-fi of Clarke and Asimov, the characterisation is a bit thin but there’s a lot of discussion of ideas, and of physics in particularity.Report

  6. Mike Schilling says:

    I’m going to go see it this afternoon. Will report back.Report

  7. Mike Schilling says:

    First, the previews. Three stood out.

    The Curse of La Llorona is another horror film. Until they showed the name, I thought it might be an Exorcist remake, because there’s young girl and a priest. Whoever edited the preview loves abrupt noises and smash cuts.

    Lucy in the Sky (cool name for a space flick) stars a woman whose southern accent and short haircut made me think it was a 25-years-younger Holly Hunter. It wasn’t until she smiled that I realized it was Natalie Portman.

    John Wick 3 was exactly the non-stop action and unchanged facial expression you’d expect, but much of it was backed by Spring from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, which was nice.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      More spoilers:

      Nice review, Rufus. The Wilsons were definitely upper middle-class, with Gabe in particular being materialistic and status-conscious, with the Tyler as frenemies of equal status. The reveal at the end explained something that had been bothering me the whole film: why was Adelaide so bent on killing the counterpart family rather than running away from them?

      There’s a fan theory that Tethered and Original Jason had switched places on a previous visit to Santa Cruz. It makes a lot of sense to me, e.g. the almost friendly relationship between the two and what that last look between Jason and Adelaide was about.Report

      • Yeah, I’ve heard that theory about Jason and it’s ambiguous at least. I took the last look as just being that he had obviously overheard the conversation and so he knew who his mother really was, but it was between the two of them. On the other hand, yeah, it could just as easily be that they shared the same origin. I also like that when a movie leaves some of its mysteries open.Report

    • I was amazed because at my showing they ran a trailer that looked like the worst movie imaginable. I feel like it must be a prank.

  8. Maribou says:

    As someone who cannot manage horror movies (almost never), I really appreciate a good spoilerrific review, so thank you.

    I tried to watch Wallender this weekend, got triggered hard by the pilot episode (which is a bummer because I do enjoy a good slow-moving broody crime drama), so it’ll be a while before I go back to that one. In my efforts to self-soothe, I resorted to binging all of Video Game High School, which was delightful trash until the 3rd season, when there was a death episode to rival Buffy’s best death episode …. it sort of got back to being delightful trash after that but the 3rd season over all was definitely heavier than the other 2.

    Surprisingly fun for something I didn’t get around to for 7 years….

    I’ve been reading Philip Ball’s _Curiosity_, rather slowly, and I really enjoy it, perhaps more so when I find things to argue with him about then when I’m just straight up learning a bunch of stuff. (Yes, I see the irony there.)Report

    • Maribou in reply to Maribou says:

      Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, I”m watching the new twilight zone, 2nd episode, and the first one was SO GOOD and it’s truly like the old one in all the glorious ways I was hoping it would be and also its own thing and I love it. was re: Jordan Peele.

      (I can handle the uncanny, just not flat out actual horror, in my visual entertainments. It’s a fine line but my amygdala always knows which side of it we’re on :D.)Report

      • Rufus F. in reply to Maribou says:

        I’m really glad about the Twilight Zone. I’m one of those people who thinks the original was the greatest television series ever, but I’m also open to new interpretations. It seems like what I’ve read about it has been mainstream sources saying it’s great and Jordan Peele is great; and horror fans griping that he’s overrated and it’s overrated because everything that gets released isn’t John Carpenter’s The Thing.

        I’m going in with an open mind.

        Which reminds me- the original TZ had a great doppelganger story:

        • Maribou in reply to Rufus F. says:

          I don’t know much about horror fandom writ large (other than the dark fantasy edges, I mostly stick to the content and not the chatter – though I love most other kinds of fan chatter so I don’t know why that is) ….

          but I watched pretty much every episode of the Twilight Zone with my grandfather as a kid …. so I hope you have the same delighted experience that I do. Will be curious to hear about it when you eventually get to it, either way.Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to Maribou says:

      Oh man, that Buffy death episode still haunts me.Report