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US (Movie Review)

Mirrors lie.

They show us what we look like, but not who we are. They make sure our hair’s combed down, our collar’s on straight, that nothing’s stuck between our teeth. But they don’t show us what’s inside our pains, our sins, our selfishness, our guilt. We don’t show people what we really are. Sometimes, we don’t show ourselves.

When Adelaide was a little girl, she got lost in a hall of mirrors. Her mother was in the bathroom, her father engrossed in a midway game of whack-a-mole. Adelaide wandered down the boardwalk stairs, onto the Santa Cruz beach and through a mysterious door. And when she wanted to get out again, Adelaide couldn’t find her way.

Adelaide saw herself in there or so it seemed. Not a reflection, but another little girl who looked just like her, dressed just like her, but one who whistled in a strange, choked pantomime of Adelaide’s own.

Adelaide never forgot that night. She couldn’t. Even though she’s grown with children of her own now, the memory still haunts her. She knows it’d sound crazy to her husband, Gabe, but she can’t shake the feeling that the girl the mysterious little waif with the warped whistle is coming for her. And coming closer.

Adelaide and Gabe pack up the kids to go to their lake house not far from the Santa Cruz beach. Gabe insists they meet friends there on the sandy shore, and Adelaide reluctantly goes along. But her sense of foreboding, even terror, grows deeper. Sharper. Back at the lake house later that night, she tells Gabe everything: the hall of mirrors. The little girl. Her very real fear. “Gabe, I want to go,” she says. And Gabe reluctantly says they will.

But out in their driveway, they spy … a family. A man, a woman, a girl and boy.

That’s creepy enough, but here’s the thing: They look like Gabe and Adelaide and their children, Zora and Jason. Not exactly alike, perhaps: The man’s missing Gabe’s spectacles. The little boy’s face is covered with a mask. They’re all wearing red jumpsuits, too. And then there’s something else … something about their expressions. They look different somehow. Warped, maybe, like a funhouse mirror.

With a murmur and click, the Adelaide doppelgänger sends her family scurrying almost as if they’re engaged in a military exercise. The boy scurries into the bushes. The girl creeps past the trees.

And then the clone of Adelaide pulls out the scissors.

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