WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
Jordan Peele is surely making a name for himself in the film industry with his new horror film "Us," another original and chilling psychological thriller. Following his widely successful first movie "Get Out," Peele had high expectations placed on him for his latest film, which he wrote, produced and directed.
And Peele did not disappoint.
Peele masterfully created a unique storyline that intertwines terrifying horror and gore with some genuinely funny moments that serve as comic relief, if only for a moment.
The music by Michael Abels is perfectly tailored to the scenes throughout the film, emphasizing the feelings that Peele wants the viewer to experience. Whether it's eerie whistling of “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” in a house of mirrors, or deep instrumental sounds that build up as a scene escalates, or well known songs like “F--k the Police” by N.W.A., all add to the visuals we see on screen.
"Us" has reached over $130 million in box office sales, which is incredible considering the budget for the film was $20 million.
The movie begins at Santa Cruz Beach in 1986, when a young girl wanders away from her father while at the boardwalk and ends up in a maze-like house of mirrors. The power is cut and she comes face-to-face with what you think is her reflection, but is actually her doppelgänger.
The film then jumps forward in time to where the young girl, named Adelaide Wilson, is now grown up with her own family. Adelaide is played by Lupita Nyong’o and is married to a man named Gabe (Winston Duke), with a teenage daughter Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and her younger son Jason (Evan Alex).
They are the typical American family escaping to their beach house in Santa Cruz for vacation. But Adelaide is terrified to go back to the beach where she got lost as a child and worries her own children will be taken, until her husband convinces her to go.
They arrive back to their house after the beach safe and sound, until Jason alerts his parents of a family in their driveway, who is presumably there to kill them. The family turns out to be their doppelgängers, who have lived below ground and have come to reclaim the life they never had.
Overall, Nyong’o gives an outstanding performance as the lead role of Adelaide as well as her “tethered” doppelgänger. Nyong’o has a striking presence on screen as both the caring and protective mother and the revengeful clone trying to kill her.
But the most interesting part about the doppelgängers is that Adelaide's is the only one that can speak, and even then it is raspy and broken. The other doppelgängers seem to only communicate through grunts and animal-like noises.
"Us" is a thrilling movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time, attempting to guess what will happen next. But the metaphors beneath the movie seem to make more sense than the actual logistics behind the plot.
This film is satirical commentary on the “American dream,” which highlights the socio-economic gaps between different social classes. But in this movie, it isn't the repressed people revolting against the rich, but an exact replica of themselves confronting their privilege. It shows the reality that our prosperity and happiness will always rely on others' suffering.
In a recent interview with "The Empire Podcast," Peele broke his silence and explains the themes and unresolved parts of the movie.
“I think one of the questions that it raises is privilege, and the neglect that sort of presumption of deserved privilege requires,” Peele said. “And when people are on the other side of it, when people have received the rough end of the nurture argument, and they rebel or act in violence or commit crimes on that side, is that evil or is that circumstance?”
Similarly to "Get Out," he is showing the sunken places of the world. Of those forgotten by the upper class, which leads to the rage and retaliation from their clones. There is also the theme of gender roles and patriarchy in the film.
When the family arrives in their driveway, Gabe makes a big deal of being the “macho man” and trying to scare them away with a baseball bat. Throughout the film, Gabe becomes injured and rendered relatively useless except to provide comic relief. Zora, the daughter, actually becomes the family's main fighter and racks up the highest kill count in the movie.
Peele finally explains the purpose of the plot twist ending in the same podcast.
“This movie’s about maybe the monster is you. It’s about us, looking at ourselves as individuals and as a group. The protagonist in the movie is the surrogate for the audience, so it felt like at the end of the day, I wasn’t doing my core theme any justice if I wasn’t revealing that we have been the bad guy in this movie. We’ve been following the villain. I say 'villain' lightly because I think there are many experiences of the film, and I think a lot of people go through a question of what is good and evil? Does that even exist? Both characters are lovable and terrifying, based on the lives they’ve led they’ve just sort of inverted the paths.”
By SOFIA CARRASCO
Featured photo: Vice image.