Jordan Peele's Us was a phenomenal success, both at the box office, where it grossed $254 million worldwide, and in critical reception; the film has an almost perfect rating of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. Get Out, which was Jordan Peele's first crack at horror, hit theatres in 2017. The film went on to be a massive hit and received the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in 2018.
It was a popular opinion among horror fanatics, that Get Out would be a tough masterpiece to follow-up, a daunting task for Jordan Peele. But the comedian turned horror devotee manage to surpass many fans' expectations, with his newest masterpiece, Us.
This spine tingling thriller follows the story of the Wilsons, a seemingly ordinary, all-American family who embark on a vacation to their beach house. As it unravels, Us is a fascinating, complex, and utterly terrifying story, that left viewers questioning what they just watched long after leaving the theatre.
With a film as multifaceted as Us was, there are several hidden details and meanings that can be found and studied, so let's explore some of them.
10 IDENTITY STRUGGLES
There's few scarier concepts than coming face to face with someone - something - that looks exactly like you but isn't really you. This is precisely what happens to Adelaide in the beginning of the film, when she's just a young girl. She wanders away from her parents while they're in Santa Cruz, she enters a creepy-looking funhouse where she ultimately meets her own doppleganger.
The Tethered are the terrifying monsters of this film, but it is also thought that they could represent a much deeper fear; and existential crisis.
9 SUBTLE POP CULTURE REFERENCES
Jordan Peele has a very tasteful way of inserting awesome pop culture references into his films. In Get Out, many fans were delighted to find a vast collection of references to Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (one of Jordan Peele's favourite horror films). Finding easter eggs and pop culture references in movies is always one of the most entertaining things about watching a movie, and Jordan Peele definitely delivers.
Us managed to maintain the nostalgic vibe of an 80s film - paying homage to several classics - even though it was set in modern times. This is yet another aspect that makes it such a masterpiece.
8 THE AMERICAN DREAM
The American Dream is an age-old concept and is a common theme in films. Family is imperfect, family strives to fix that and be perfect - which, in other words, means living the American Dream. This is basically a term used to describe the perfect upper middle-class family that has all the best houses, lives in the most idyllic neighbourhood, and owns all the coolest stuff.
So for as long as the American Dream has been a thing, it's been described by having most (and the best) stuff. When Us presents Elisabeth Moss' character, Kitty Tyler, Tim Heidecker's character, Josh Tyler, and their twin daughters, it could easily be seen as this movie depicting what most consider to be the American Dream, in this clearly flawed and imperfect family who just so happen to have all the best stuff.
There's stark contrast between the Tyler family and the Wilson family. It's stated very frequently throughout the movie (mainly by Gabe) that the Wilson's wish they had all the shiny, expensive stuff that the Tylers had. In the end though, the film makes a clear point in establishing the fact that the American Dream is ultimately an utterly useless concept.
It's hard to miss the fact that young Adelaide is wearing a vibrantly designed shirt depicting Michael Jackson's Thriller, in the beginning of the film. This could be viewed as simply a fun reference to the iconic song, but upon closer inspection, there seems to be a much deeper meaning to this reference.
It's very fitting to compare Us to Thriller; not only the song, but also the music video. When compared, it's clear that it was Jordan Peele's intention to pay homage to the Thriller song and music video, with similarities such as setting, the Tethered acting quite alike to the zombies in Thriller, and the fact that Red's vibrant red outfit looks almost identical to Michael Jackson's costume.
6 GET OUT PARALLELS
Us is definitely not a sequel to Get Out, but since it was Jordan Peele's first follow-up to his 2017 smash hit horror movie, there was bound to be some similarities between the two films. Jordan Peele was very diligent in placing wonderful little easter eggs and references to Get Out, within Us, and this makes finding them very fun. From rabbits, to its soundtrack, to even some cinematography aspects, Us parallels Get Out, and it's completely wonderful.
5 RABBITS EVERYWHERE
Us begins with a very odd, drawn out scene in which the camera slowly zooms out to reveal cages upon cages of rabbits. This is not only a very unique and memorable opener, but is also laden with much more meaning than it would first appear. Rabbits are seen everywhere throughout the film, often in subtle little shots that can easily be missed upon the first viewing. From Adelaide's daughter, Zora, wearing a t-shirt that has a drawn picture of a rabbit on it, to the scene where Red cuts the head off of a stuffed rabbit; these fluffy little animals have a very significant presence in the film. In an interview, Jordan Peele even admitted that rabbits terrify him, stating,"They’re adorable but they terrify me at the same time. And they’ve got those scissor-like ears that creep me out".
4 SYMBOLISM OF THE TETHERED
At the very beginning of Us, audiences are shown a quote that explains the fact that there are many underground tunnels beneath America, supposedly empty and their purpose unknown. It's not long into the film that it's revealed that the Tethered are living in said tunnels, seemingly an experiment gone wrong and since abandoned.
But what do the Tethered symbolize? This could be a variety of things really, and the mystery of it all makes it so much more interesting.
The Bible verse, Jeremiah 11:11, plays a significant role in this movie, and is a recurring theme, appearing multiple times throughout. The verse is this: "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 numbers 11:11 appear several times in Us, which means that Jordan Peele wants us to remember those numbers, and think about this particular Bible verse while watching the film. But the numbers themselves also may hold some symbolism, as they are meant to represent synchronicity.
2 HANDS ACROSS AMERICA
Hands Across America occurred on Sunday, May 25, 1986. Approximately $6.5 million people held hands for fifteen minutes in order to form a human chain across America. The event was created to donate money to charities that aided the hungry and homeless.
Early on in Us, viewers are shown a retro TV screen that advertises Hands Across America, alluding to the fact that this event will play a substantial role in the film. And that it did; Hands Across America was the thing that gave Adelaide her inspiration when leading the Tethered to take over America, and foreshadowed the ending sequence of the dopplegangers forming a human chain.
1 HOMAGE TO HORROR
Jordan Peele is a self-proclaimed horror fanatic, so it's no surprise the Us is riddled with references to well-known and loved horror movies. A great hidden meaning in Us was the fact that Jordan Peele included easter eggs and callbacks to all the horror movies that influenced him to make this one.
The inspirations noted were: Dead Again (1991), C.H.U.D. (1984), Persona (1966), Funny Games (1997), Carnival Of Soul (1962), The People Under The Stairs (1991), and Martyrs (2008).