Tess Hemmila – Staff Writer
Jordan Peele’s second film Us has surpassed his tremendously successful debut film Get Out (2017). Us brought in over $70 million in its opening weekend, making it the largest-ever box office opening for an original horror movie. The success of Us should not only be attributed to the movie’s beyond-unusual storyline and its brutal plot-twist, but also to Jordan Peele’s reputation for incredible filmmaking after Get Out.
Us opens in 1986, when a young girl, Adelaide, is attacked by her exact double in a house of mirrors by the Santa Cruz boardwalk. Fast forward to the present: Adelaide is married with two children and is going on a vacation to the exact same beach. Adelaide senses that her double is close and, sure enough, a family that is an exact double of Adelaide’s family breaks into their house and holds them hostage.
From there on, the film follows the family’s flight from “the tethered”—exact copies of people made during a government experiment that have escaped from underground tunnels. The tethered, led by Adelaide’s double, have taken over the surface in mass, seeking revenge after living their entire lives trapped in tunnels, mimicking the actions of their above-ground counterparts.
The complexities of the film’s plot have sparked many theories and sent viewers searching for the many Easter eggs hidden throughout the movie. Viewers point out the absurd amount of times the number 11 is used through the film, a reference to a Bible verse shown at the opening of the film. Other Easter eggs include various references to The Shining and Friday the 13th.
Another unique aspect of “Us” was the use of music throughout the film. While the movie does use some creepy background music, Peele also managed to slide in songs like “F*** Tha Police” by N.W.A., “I Like That” by Janelle Monae, and “I got 5 on it” by Luniz—far from the typical horror movie soundtrack. The music was used strategically and the few moments of comedy in the film relied largely on the use of rap music.
The film’s unique plot is not the only reason Us has been such a successful movie. Many viewers are eager to see more of Peele’s uncomfortably thought-provoking films. Peele’s now-signature themes of societal critique are also especially apparent in Us. He uses this film to examine symbolic and overblown examples of classism, consumerism and racism.
Radically simplified, the real people in Us could represent the privileged upper-class, while the tethered could represent the lower-class, stuck in place and mimicking the actions of their upper-class counterparts without any results. Peele’s film takes an unsettling and profound look at classism that makes viewers both dislike and sympathize with the tethered.