The motif of the evil twin is a common one in horror films. What is more terrifying than an exact copy of you, that walks like you, talks like you… and knows all of your weaknesses? Jordan Peele’s “Us” brings a new take to the evil twin and poses the question, “What if we all had an evil version of ourselves, plotting our demise?”
His follow-up to the politically-minded blockbuster “Get Out,” Us follows Adelaide Wilson played by Lupita Nyong’o as she takes her children and husband to her childhood beach house, the same place where she faced extreme trauma as a child. The film is filled with flashbacks from Adelaide’s childhood, as the beach house brings back memories, and eventually some very real terrors. Like “Get Out”, “Us” is definitely a commentary on American society, which was my favorite way to experience and analyze the plot.
The movie starts with a flashback to Adelaide as a child, around 6 or 7, she is at the boardwalk playing games with her mother and father, when she strays away from them onto the beach. While on the beach, she wanders into the “Shaman Vision Quest Forest”, a twisted mirror funhouse, with a stereotypical Native American character painted on the front. This funhouse is the first political comment of the movie, as when Adelaide returns to the funhouse as an adult, the Native American has been lazily painted over, and the fun house is now named “Merlin’s Enchanted Forest”. The Funhouse plays as a metaphor for the way that many issues are handled in our current society. When a complaint is made, it is only resolved when it is profitable for the owners and is often done as lazily as possible.
Their first night at the house, Adelaide and her family notice a group of people outside of their house. The group of people breaks into Adelaide’s house and we find out that they are all carbon copies called “tethers” of Adelaide’s family, with a few small differences. Jason, (Adelaide’s son) has a tether named “Pluto” who looks exactly like him, except that he wears a mask to cover severe burns he has on his face. The tether of Adelaide’s husband, Gabe, is named Abraham and unlike Gabe, does not wear glasses. When Abraham and Gabe meet for the first time, Abraham takes Gabe’s glasses and puts them on. Abraham is exactly like Gabe, so it makes sense that like Gabe, he would also need glasses. However, as a tether, Abraham was not given the same resources as Gabe, meaning that he must have spent his entire life with impaired vision.
This is another example of political commentary in the movie. By showing the differences in the resources that the tethers and the normal people get, Peele is making a commentary on the opportunities that we give people in our society. If everyone was given the same education, the same medical care, the same housing, who knows how they could succeed in life?
Going into the movie, I was expecting that it would be more focused on racial commentary, similar to “Get Out.” and, while the idea of racial oppression was a theme could be taken from the movie, it definitely isn’t the only point the movie is trying to make. The movie focuses on the broader theme of “Us vs Them” and the way that that narrative has affected the minds of American people. We are constantly being told to fear the other, but what if the thing we should be afraid of is ourselves?
The strength of the commentary in “Us” is that you get to decide how involved you want to be in it. If you are into the conspiracy theories, you can watch the movie through a critical lens. But if you just like to be scared and are looking for a genuinely good horror movie, you can get that too.