I have been a fan of Jordan Peele since his days on MAD TV and Key and Peele, so when he ventured into the horror genre, I was quite surprised that he did. That all changed when I watched Get Out! and he established himself as a serious horror movie maestro. Us may not be as pioneering as Get Out! but it’s just as good.
Us focuses on the Wilson family – parents Adelaide and Gabe (Black Panther co-stars Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke), teenager Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and youngest Jason (Evan Alex) – on a vacation at their summer house in Santa Cruz. Adelaide is not interested in Santa Cruz, as she had some bad memories on the beach as a child, and her apprehensions began to take form when four strangers in red overalls appear at their doorstep with shiny gold scissors.
First impressions of the movie bring remind me of horror movies involving families, like Signs of M. Night Shyamalan, and Stephen King’s The Shining, but knowing Peele, I knew there was something more to the scissors-wielding family of four in red. True enough, once they enter the house and get cozy with the Wilsons, it was obvious that these four were not total strangers.
All four actors in the movie had to play double roles, one good and one bad. Nyong’o’s Red character was a strong figure in the movie, and her role as the spokesperson of the creepy family does not disappoint. Her duelling personas are so vastly different, and her evil side is the stuff that nightmares are made of. Duke’s Abraham character was as dad-jokey as can be, and his comic instances in the movie reminded me of who Peele is as a MAD TV actor. Joseph’s Zora character was a strong teen and was as courageous as Alex’s Jason.
The movie is a commentary of today’s modern society, on how people treat others for their own benefit. While it is not overtly political like Get Out!’s focus on racism, Us discusses the loss of freedom, the insanity of experimentation on human beings, and many other questionable practices modern man calls “normal” and “acceptable”, in the name of “progress”. The allusion to “Hands Across America” is a parallelism to the objectives of the people in red. Hands Across America in the 1980s sought for freedom from hunger and homelessness, while the people in red sought for freedom and identity as well, and they use that to make “a statement”, as Red says.
Peele’s fascination for rabbits matched mine and their appearance in the opening credits already made me think of their relevance, and how Peele’s use of them makes you think of what they were symbolizing. As the movie opens, a wall full of cages with rabbits inside them makes the viewers think what these gentle creatures are for, until Red’s character tells the Wilsons they were raised for food by their “creators”. Symbolically, the rabbits allude to many things, one of which may be the fact that rabbits are used in experiments, which the people in red were created for. On another note, it reminds one of the White Rabbit going down the hole in Alice in Wonderland, the same way that Adelaide did years ago in the Hall of Mirrors.
There is no doubt that Peele’s doppelgangers are a must-see for fans of horror. It blends horror, humour, and social commentary all into one package that makes you want to see more. The movie makes you think, and think twice, as nothing seems to be mundane and banal, and unlike a typical gory movie, every ounce of fake blood is worth watching. Like a good horror movie, in honour of Hitchcock and King, Us leaves you with a list of questions that my husband and I will be talking about in our next few movie dates. Peele is excellent at telling horror stories without all the blood and guts, because like the masters, it’s all in your head.(by Rosette Correa)
Us is now available on Digital June 4th and Blu-ray/DVD June 18th.
Cast: Lupita Nyong’O, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, and Tim Heidecker
Music By: Michael Abels
Costume Designer: Kym Barrett
Editor: Nicholas Monsour
Production Designer: Ruth De Jong
Director of Photography: Michael Gioulakis
Executive Producers: Daniel Lupi and Beatriz Sequeira
Produced By: Sean McKittrick, p.g.a,,Jason Blum, and Ian Cooper,p.g.a.
Written, Produced, and Directed By: Jordan Peele