In 2017, actor and comedian Jordan Peele released “Get Out,” a movie that redefined the horror genre. This year, he gave audiences “Us,” which turned out to be a box office success.
“Us” centers around the family of Adelaide Wilson, played by Lupita Nyong’o (“Black Panther”). The movie begins with a traumatic event from Adelaide’s childhood, and jumps forward to when she has a husband, Gabe, played by Winston Duke (“Black Panther”); a daughter, Zora, played by Shahadi Wright (“Hairspray Live!”) and a son, Jason, played by Evan Alex.
From the beginning, the movie has a bunch of pop culture references. Young Adelaide wants a Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” t-shirt from the boardwalk; a subtle reference to the 1987 film “The Lost Boys” is thrown in, and we are shown VHS tapes of several other horror movies, such as “C.H.U.D.,” and “The Man With Two Brains.”
The opening credits sequence, shown after the clip of Adelaide’s past, sets up the rest of the movie perfectly, while also giving hints to the ending – if you’re paying close enough attention. We’re shown a long shot of rabbits in cages while an eerie song sung by children plays in the background – composed by Michael Abels, who also composed Peele’s “Get Out” in 2017 – and this in itself is a hint to the Tethers’ story. We are then shown a commercial from the 80’s campaign “Hands Across America” on an old-school television, which is surrounded by VHS tapes of some of the movies that inspired Peele for “Us.” Look hard enough, and from this sequence alone you can figure out some of the movie.
The plot is divided into a three-act structure, which worked very well for the movie in particular. This structure made all of the twists and turns easier to follow–and trust me, there are many twists and turns in the movie. Nothing about the film is predictable, which makes for a wild ride watching.
What is now typical to Jordan Peele’s movies, “Us” mixes horror and comedy, while avoiding being cheesy. The Wilson family’s friends, the Tyler family, are your stereotypical “basic white people,” and are easy to make fun of. Wade also provides some comic relief, being made out to seem like the least-smart member of the family.
Still, even with the comedy, the movie is honestly terrifying, and will keep you at the edge of your seat. It doesn’t rely heavily on jumpscares, but more so chase scenes, as well as psychological horror. You never know what’s going to come next, but if you look back at the end of the movie, you’ll realize that it should have been obvious due to the subtle clues and hints Peele leaves throughout.
Much like “Get Out,” “Us” was more than what meets the eye. It’s by no means your typical horror movie, and managed to be very original despite Peele using other movies as inspiration. The movie currently has a 94 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which I think is well-deserved.