I’m by no means a lover of horror movies anymore, but when Jordan Peele writes one, you can’t help but wonder what it will be like. His freshman movie, Get Out, was creepy enough to motivate me to see more from him. Us didn’t let me down. It’s a little hard to write specifics about the movie without giving away spoilers, because there’s so much to say, due to Director Peele’s love for symbolism and thought-provoking cliffhangers.
Let me start with a little framework. Director Peele stated in interviews that the idea of this movie came from various iconic horror-based inspirations, but the 1960 Twilight Zone episode entitled Mirror Image, where Vera Miles encountered her own doppelganger in a bus terminal, sent his imagination over the top.
The movie begins with a few sentences on the screen, pointing out that there are miles and miles of tunnels and secret passageways underneath cities in America, of which some have no purpose at all. At first, when I read that I wondered if the theater had put the wrong movie on. The next scene didn’t do much for immediately confirming that I was watching the right film given that the time setting was 1986, and a very old television was playing a “Hands Across America” infomercial inviting people to take part in the hand-holding (thus, a tethering which you’ll see resurface as symbolism) around the USA, to raise money to fight hunger and homelessness.
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The movie is extremely scary and creepy. Jordan does a good job setting up each scene, especially when the black doppelganger family arrived in the driveway. Director Peele took his time before revealing the family, I’m sure, to increase the suspense and wow factor.
In the meantime, the scenes played out with a little humor from the father Gabe, going from suburban sweet-talking with reason, as he’s a little naive to what’s going on, to straight up hood trash-talking. On the other hand, the mom Ade has a very good idea that something terrible is about to happen. That’ll make more sense as the plot thickens, and at the end of the movie (wink).
There’s a lot of killing, with blood flying and gushing everywhere. If you have a weak stomach for blood, cover your eyes, but don’t keep them shut, as the movie is not filled with massive narrative scripting as much as visuals and sound effects. Jordan Peele used Michael Abels again to do the music, which is the same man Jordan found on YouTube to do the music for Get Out.
The acting was very good by all the characters. Shout-out to Lupita Nyong’o who plays the mom, Ade. She needs an award nomination for the dual role she played — exceptional job, and that spooky voice she created for her doppelganger made her even scarier. Now, let me point out a few things I noticed about the movie that you may have missed, or you should look for when you see it a second time. You have to see it 2 or 3 times because you’ll discover something new every time you see it.
These notes aren’t true spoilers, but if you want to go into the film with no foreknowledge at all, you might want to stop reading here, and return after you’ve seen it. But I think these notes will help your first-time viewing enjoyment, so this will have to be your call:
1. The rabbits appear again in this movie just like in Get Out. Also, I noticed that the rabbits were mainly just white with only a few brown or black ones mirroring America, or some of the many environments we work and live in. Other rabbit sightings: the daughter’s t-shirt; when the homeless guy was taken into the ambulance, he looked to be wearing a rabbit’s foot around his neck; and the doll the young Ade played with was a white rabbit.
2. Don’t miss that deer on the wall of the fun house; it reminded me of the deer at the beginning of Get Out.
3. The signal to move when the doppelganger family stood in the driveway was the Wakanda arms pose from the movie Black Panther.
4. The counselor and the parents thought the daughter was suffering from PTSD.
5. There was a subtle spider doppelganger in the vacation home.
6. The son, nor the mom, had rhythm when the song I Got 5 On It was playing in the car on the road trip. Hmmm (remember I said this when you watch).
7. Jeremiah 11:11 “I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape” appeared as a reference several times: on the homeless man’s sign in 1986, during the present day when he got put into the ambulance, and then as the son Jason noticed the time was 11:11 at the vacation house, just before the doppelgangers arrived.
8. The name of the fun house in 1986 when young Ade entered was called Vision Quest, but in present-day of the movie when Momma Ade entered it was called Merlin’s Nest Hall.
9. Jason’s mask is red, like the doppelgangers’ clothing. More importantly, why does he have a mask in the first place? (Remember I said this, too.)
10. Jason growled like his doppelganger when he and his sister entered the neighbor’s house. Very questionable, or just a little touch of humor? (Remember this.)
11. Momma Ade and her doppelganger, Red, never seemed tethered like the others, as they didn’t have synchronized movements like some of the other copycat pairs. (And again, remember I said this…)
Lastly, I’ll mention those gold fabric scissors. I think they represent the act of cutting the ties or the tether between the two pairs. We often are our own worst enemy (as the movie subtitle states) and sometimes we need to sever that tether in order to escape what oppresses us.
I also agree with another theory that Peele portrays the doppelgangers as a means for him to continue to explore ‘double consciousness’ — W.E.B Du Bois’ influential race theory of how Blacks see themselves two-fold: as themselves, and as themselves through their oppressor’s eyes. Hence, the beginning of the movie with the long camera shot of the white rabbit’s eye staring at us.
Okay, I told you there was much to say without giving away spoilers, only tips to pay attention to as you watch. Hopefully, you enjoy it as much as I did. I’m headed to see it again tonight. Let me know your thoughts below.
About The Peetimes: Oh my! I’m still shaking in my seat. It was difficult to find Peetimes. The plot didn’t let up much or long enough for anyone to leave their seat and not miss a good part, or one of the many symbolic references. I recommend the 3rd Peetime — it’s the longest.
There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Us. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)
Rated (R) for violence/terror, and language
Genres: Horror, Thriller
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Clever Moments You Might Have Missed Watching The Horror-Thriller Movie Us -
[…] an important yet subtle symbol or scene. I loved Director Jordan Peele’s debut horror film Us, and found a lot of interesting and super-clever tidbits that make everything come […]