US (15)

Dir: Jordan Peele

With: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss

Runtime: 116 minutes

IN his Oscar-winning horror Get Out, writer-director Jordan Peele took a magnifying glass to race relations and exposed ugly blemishes in the face of present-day American society.

For his eagerly awaited second feature, the filmmaker holds up a mirror, literally and figuratively, and asks us to stare unblinking into the eyes of our distorted reflections.

In 1986, when she was a girl, Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o) wandered into the Shaman’s Vision Quest attraction at Santa Cruz amusement park during a downpour. She glimpsed something unspeakable in the hall of mirrors. Fast-forwarding to the present, Adelaide is a fiercely protective mother to two children, Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex). “Stick with me and I’ll keep you safe,” Adelaide promises her boy.

She travels with husband Gabe (Winston Duke) and the kids to the family’s beach house to reconnect with friends Josh and Kitty Tyler (Tim Heidecker, Elisabeth Moss) and their twin daughters (Cali and Noelle Sheldon).

Late one night, Jason interrupts his mother with disturbing news: “There’s a family in our driveway.” Gabe attempts to scare away the four shadowy figures with chest-puffing bravado and a baseball bat. His threats are hollow because the intruders are the Wilsons’ gnarled, scissor-wielding doppelgangers.

Us is more bloodthirsty and physically punishing than its predecessor, obliquely referencing The Shining and Invasion Of The Body Snatchers.

While Peele’s script is laboriously specific about the back stories of the lead characters, he is frustratingly ambiguous when it comes to burnishing the nuts and bolts of the social commentary underpinning the slaughter.

You can read this battle royale as an allegory about the oppression of an underclass, the fear of outsiders infiltrating our cosy suburban idylls, or the war against terrorism. If nothing else, it will spark lively debate over the popcorn.