There are a number of different ways to interpret the new horror movie, “Us.” Every image seems to be a clue for what is about to happen.
At the start of the movie, titles inform the audience that there are thousands of miles of tunnels under the United States, stating that many “have no known purpose at all.”
After the opening titles, “Us” begins with a flash to 1986 with young Adelaide Wilson, played by Madison Curry, and her parents wandering through the Santa Cruz boardwalk at night. She separates from them to walk out on the empty beach, watching thunderclouds roll in. She finds an attraction just off the main pier, and walks into what looks like an abandoned hall of mirrors. While lost in the hall of mirrors, she discovers something terrifying, her doppelgänger.
The movie then shifts to present day, as the Wilson family is heading toward their vacation home. The little girl has now grown up to be a woman. Adelaide, now played by Lupita Nyong’, is nervous about returning to that spot on the Santa Cruz beach.
Her husband, Gabe, played by Winston Duke, thinks she’s overreacting about not wanting to go to the Santa Cruz beach again. He tries to convince her that it’s safe, so they can take their kids, Zora, played by Shahadi Wright Joseph, and Jason, played by Evan Alex, to the beach and meet up with old friends.
While on the beach, Jason runs off and Adelaide freaks out, worried that maybe his doppelgänger had taken him. Once the family returns home for a quiet night, they are faced with trespassers in their driveway in the darkness, who turn out to be their doppelgänger family.
“Us,” written and directed by Jordan Peele, is filled with hidden messages and foreshadowing of what is going to happen to the Wilson family. These images and messages leave a lot for the audience to try to decipher and interpret. In the movie, the Jeremiah 11:11 Bible verse appears twice before pivotal moments. The verse says, “Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘I will bring on them a disaster they cannot escape. Although they cry out to me, I will not listen to them,’” which alludes to the catastrophe that is to come.
I was slightly disappointed because I expected “Us” to be scarier, rather than a psychological thriller. I was more nervous through the movie than I was scared, with a heart-racing, and adrenaline-pumping feeling.
Peele, who also wrote and directed the critically acclaimed “Get Out,” not only knows how to tell his story, he assembled an incredible cast to play two roles. The Wilsons are a picture of an all-American family, a family of four that looks to be middle class, with college-educated parents. Their doppelgängers may look like them and be tied to them in some way, but their lives are inverses of each other. Their existence has been one of limits and misery. For the actors, it’s a chance to play two extremes, one of intense normality and the other of wretched evil.
Not only was it casted extremely well, visually, the movie was great. “It Follows” cinematographer Mike Gioulakis creates unsettling images in mundane spaces, like how a strange family standing in a driveway isn’t necessarily scary, except when it’s eerily dark outside, and they’re backlit so that their faces go unseen.
A suspenseful story, marvelous cast and a great crew make the movie enjoyable and thought provoking. I give “Us” a nine out of 10.