Tyler Christiansen ’21
Jordan Peele, writer and director of 2017’s best film “Get Out,” returns to the horror genre with “Us,” a bloody and hilarious film that tackles many societal issues at once while also being super entertaining. Let me make something clear: if you come into the film thinking this is going to be a spiritual successor to “Get Out,” you will be disappointed. “Us” has its own unique voice, but it is still clearly made by Peele. Since it is almost impossible to discuss the film without spoiling it, I am giving a spoiler warning. If you read on and have not seen the film, it will seem like incoherent nonsense.
“Us” begins with a young Adelaide (Madison Curry’s debut) at a Santa Cruz beach who suddenly sees her double in a hall of mirrors. The film flashes forward to when Adelaide (Luptia Nyong’o, never better) is married and has a family. They are on a family trip to their beach house and eventually go back to the Santa Cruz beach, where Adelaide is obviously concerned. Soon, after many “coincidences” and a power outage, the doubles of the family invade their house and the film really kicks into gear. Peele expertly chooses to just have the doppelganger family show up at the house; since the Wilson family has no idea where they come from, the audience shouldn’t either. If he did show the audience, then he would also be spoiling the last 20 minutes of the film.
The film is anchored by Nyong’o’s performance, who has to play the good and “Tethered” part of herself. The other actors have to do this as well and do play their parts well, but Nyong’o is next level. Like in most cases, she will probably be ignored in awards season just like Toni Collette in “Hereditary,” but that doesn’t matter; she has never been better and she doesn’t need a trophy to prove it.
Michael Abels tops himself with his score in “Get Out” with his new, eerie score for “Us.” “Pas de Deux” and “Anthem” are highlights on the soundtrack. The sharp violin and cello elevate the film to another level of eeriness and excitement.
If you have seen the film, you will know that Jeremiah 11:11 is a recurring motif throughout the film. It reads, “Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them.” The Book of Jeremiah also suggests the worshipping of false idols, which in today’s terms could suggest material riches that actually don’t enrich our lives at all. Along with the Hands Across America imagery, Peele seems to be suggesting that the people above ground (the Wilson family and their friends) are thinking about the wrong things and not thinking about the people below, or the Tethered. This argument is also supported when the Wilson’s family friends, who are uppity and snobby, are murdered and the blood covers the smart home device, Alexa.
The film’s most poignant moment is during the climax, when it is revealed that the Adelaide we have been following all along is originally from the tunnels underground where the Tethered live; her double kidnapped her and brought her down into the tunnels. Her double then assumed her identity and returned to her parents without them knowing it was a completely different person. This twist changes the perspective of the entire film and makes the audience empathize with Adelaide’s double, who is actually just Adelaide. I think Peele’s intent here is to show the audience that the “other” is not as bad as we make them out to be. That maybe the evil is not out there, but is the ignorance inside of us.