Jordan Peele delivers a superb reimagined horror flick infused with his interpretation of America, social inequality and justice (injustice?) and the inner demons we all choose to suppress. US is about you and I and a vivid reflection of what it means to hide these fickle ghosts which tend to haunt each and everyone of us. Peele follows this intense cinematic portrayal to 2017’s GET OUT and does not disappoint. Bringing to the forefront the stellar cast, Lupita N’yongo who plays Adelaide and Winston Duke, who plays her humorous counterpart Gabe Wilson. The director, who is no stranger to twisting the genre of horror and bringing elements of political & social awareness to his films, introduces themes of duality and dopplegangers, scattering his own ideas and theories across the movie. He does so in varying degrees and after seeing “US” I would recommend a second glimpse in order to catch these “easter eggs” so to speak.
Delving into the thickness of the plot, the film commences with a young Adelaide wandering off into what appears to be a “fun house” in the middle of the beach while on a seemingly innocent family trip. There, she runs into her “double” or doppleganger and thereafter, well into adulthood, Adelaide is still reeling from what we can safely assume to be a form of post traumatic stress disorder. While on a similar trip to the beach with their two children, Jason and Zora, Adelaide develops a growing sense of discomfort even though nothing initially appears to be out of the normal. Yet, when her son Jason runs off and finds a homeless man standing with his hands (one hand completely covered in blood) sprawled out with a sign reading Jeremiah 11:11, we start to see a distinct shift in tonality, and signs we ought to be gathering as per Peele’s subtle directions. Adelaide immediately noticing the absence of her son, panics and searches for him on the beach, finding him in perfect condition as he points to the homeless man. She takes Jason into her arms and they return to the rest of the family.
Adelaide no longer feels safe and confesses to Gabe of how she thinks her double is closer to her than ever before. As her husband attempts to give her some semblance of peace, even inserting some jokingly sexual innuendo to take the edge off, they realize through the window there is a family standing in their driveway. (This image by the way in particular continues to creep me out, days after seeing the movie.) As their double family refuses to move or speak, Gabe comes out with the intention of garnering some sort of information from these strangers. Dressed in red jumpers, similar to a prison uniform, the doppelganger family suddenly begin to take a violent approach and each member “double “ of the family goes after their respective counterparts. Not before Adelaide’s double announces who they are and how they will avenge their oppression.
The night ensues with a cat and mouse chase every member fending for themselves, even realizing their neighbours were also attacked by their doubles, realizing the Wilsons are not the only family at risk.
Jordan Peele offers a kind of tribute to his own speculations regarding the Hands Across America movement and the idea that shadow people are among us. Expanding on these theories, he indulges heavily into this fantasy and takes audiences on a wild ride, giving us this creepy portrayal of the Tethers, social activism and its very flawed ideologies and a skewed perception of reality. Audiences will no doubt wonder what is and what is not -is there another version of ourselves we refuse to show to the world? Most likely yes, and Peele does a marvelous job of depicting this in his creativity and imagination and sophomore feature, “Us”.
Universal Pictures releases Us on Friday, March 24, 2019
[Review by Alessia Youkhanna]