Us (2019) Director: Jordan Peele
Us is the follow-up to Peele’s celebrated contemporary horror film Get Out released in 2017. It stars Lupita N’yong’o, a Kenyan American actress. Us tells the story of Adelaide Wilson and her family on vacation in Santa Cruz, CA when they are mysteriously attacked by a group of Doppelgängers – a pseudo-German word for people who look identical. The film plays on all manner of old Germanic lore of evil twins, and paranoia of people’s own origins as Adelaide recalls her childhood when she is grabbed by an identical copy of herself in the fun house mirror attraction at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Now later in life the “tethered” seek to untether themselves and reclaim their rightful place above. The “tethered” were originally created in a human cloning experiment that failed so they were abandoned and left underground to wander, mimicking the actions of those above. As a twist at the end, it is revealed that those many years ago, the real Adelaide was kidnapped and attacked by her Doppelgänger who chained her to the floor, and ruined her vocal chords underground by choking, so she could escape to life above. The true Adelaide is killed and the new Adelaide continues in her life, though her son Jason is clearly skeptical she is who she says she is.
The film is loosely based on a Twilight Zone episode called “Mirror Image” about an evil Doppelgänger. Michael Abels completed the unique score for the film (he also wrote the score for Get Out, as well). Images and allusions to classic cinema are rife throughout the film, as is allusion to Biblical scripture: “Therefore thus saith the Lord: ‘I will bring on them a disaster they cannot escape. Although they cry out to me, I will not listen to them’” Jeremiah 11:11. The tethered also mirror Michael Jackson’s outfit and look for Thriller.
Peele intended for the film to have some sort of social justice allegory, like a fable, or an educational story to make people better and not ignore the underprivileged in America, however there are deeper themes of the “other” and collective forgetting and duality worth exploring in the film. As the title beckons, who do we consider to be “us” and by proxy who are “them”? The film is a good film, building on the unique vein of his work from Get Out.