Writing Movie “WRONGS”
By Jim West
Directed by Jordan Peele
Written by Jordan Peele
In 2017, Jordan Peele had a smash hit in his directorial debut with Get Out. An original and fresh horror film that was layered and captivating. It is easy to say his next foray into horror genre had many salivating. With a modest budget of 20 million and a cast of great actors who made big impacts in Black Panther (Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke), this certainly had all the right components of a solid film. Yet for Jordan Peele as the sole writer of the story he forgot a very important element of introducing fresh new ideas….the devil’s in the details.
Here comes the spoilers.
The film opens with a family of three at a boardwalk for a young girl’s birthday and it isn’t long before parents get distracted and lose track of their young daughter who wanders off and finds herself in a hall of mirrors. Inside she comes face to face with a doppelganger and then we are brought to modern day. Where a husband and wife are planning a summer trip to the same area where the start of the film occurred. The wife who was the little girl in the opening is not keen on returning and eventually the husband convinces her it will be alright. Lots of foreshadow and for the very perceptive the twist of the film can also be quickly guessed here. The family loads up in the car and they set off to the vacation home. Foreshadow is used again with the son getting locked in a closet, and later would be used again and with the direct shots tight on the door stop it is right in the cliché territory of most horror films. When night falls they are visited by a family of four that are dressed in red jumpsuits and look exactly like them. These doppelgangers or twins are much alike but off in some way whether being psychotic like the little girl is, or unable to speak like the father version, or mute like the little boy. Here the two young girls we met at the beginning of the film meet again face to face. By now if you hadn’t guessed the twist for the film ending it should be blatantly clear. Again foreshadow is heavily used like loaves of bread filling in for bread crumbs by the writer. IT is revealed that these doppelgangers or twins are uprising and taking over for their counterparts and simultaneously linking hands in a human chain which again was foreshadowed in the start of the film with the commercial for Hands Across America. By now this film could be called ‘Foreshadow’ instead of Us.
You get some minor jump scares, and some disturbing moments of kill scenes by the normal family members against their twins. Then the crazy twin of the wife eventually gives us the backstory of what happened with them and how some government program for population control went awry. We are left to assume the twins underground lived off of rabbits and shared a soul with their counterparts. There is where the devil in details unravels the film. No explanation to how the government was able to accomplish this program or clone or create copies and the fact there are literally no government personnel involved still is simply too far-fetched to stretch the imagination this far. For as large of a population the United States has and how it grew every year it would have required a significant number of personnel to run such a program. No explanation what so ever of what happened or how it even came to be. This is the details that are the foundation of the backstory that never gets told. If you are sitting in the theater asking these questions then the film has stopped pulling you in story wise and you are now just staring at the screen thinking this just isn’t well thought out. Then the foreshadow starts to work against itself because it is used so much that you can already guess every scenes as it is happening. No more surprises in Us.
Simple way to fix this is to extend a flashback scene or show them uprising against their government captors. Also I would remove the opening shot of the rabbits in cages as that is too significant of a foreshadow that it ruined the entire film for me as I guessed this was an experiment gone wrong. Yet no experiment was shown or seen.
Movies are supposed to help us suspend disbelief and provide escapism, but this film falls flat due to a weak foundation in writing.
Thanks for reading ‘Writing Movie ‘WRONGS’.