Not Your Average Horror Film

Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ Provides Thrills and Social Commentary

Bobby Sweeney and Luke Randall

Us is directed by famous comedian and horror enthusiast, Jordan Peele. Peele’s first box office hit, Get Out, is a chilling thriller interwoven with commentary on modern racial tensions. Get Out received rave reviews from audience members and even won Peele Best Original Screenplay at the 2018 Oscars. Unlike Get Out, Us is much more centered on terrifying horror. 

The plot centers around Adelaide Wilson and her family as they go on vacation to their beach house. On this trip, they are forced to fight for survival against four intruders. As the masks of the attackers are removed, the family is horrified to see that the intruders are doppelgangers of themselves. 

Jordan Peele mainly focused on racial divides and tensions in his first film, Get Out. Us tackles another heavily debated issue, classism and capitalism. Peele address this topic by revealing the true nature of the doppelgangers, as government created duplicates named the Tethered. The Tethered were initially created to control the general public, but the government abandoned the project, leaving the Tethered alone underground. The Tethered rebel to fight against their horrible living conditions and to claim the lives they wish they had. This struggle for improvement in Us is an allegory for many modern day protests, such as the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. While BLM march for equality, Peele makes the Tethered kill their opposites to emphasize the resolve of these modern day protesters. 

A unique aspect of Us is the challenge presented to the cast– playing two opposite characters with distinct personalities. Leading actress Lupita Nyong’o is truly put to the test as she plays both protagonist Adelaide and her wicked doppelganger, Red. The entire Wilson family, played by Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph, and Evan Alex, shines brilliantly  in their dual roles as they successfully express their fear and instill it into the audience. 

The fantastic musical score of Get Out is brought back with Michael Abels returning to produce the musical score for Us. The haunting, yet riveting scores heighten the tense moments of physical violence and conflict between the Wilsons and their doppelgangers. Even the simple background noise when the characters are talking provides a slightly disturbing tone to encentuate the fear for the audience.  

The only real problem with Us is that the movie takes a very direct route to its mystery. Rather than hinting at details and letting the audience watch in fear as what is to come or what is happening, Peele opts to explain many of the major mysteries that previously perpetuated the constant fear of the film. While this does allow Peele to more easily express the themes of class and xenophobia, it fails to further the horrific atmosphere the film tries to maintain. 

Jordan Peele’s chilling second film is an excellent thriller that is guaranteed to give laughs and goosebumps to regular movie viewers and horror fans alike. While other directors focus on pure horror, Peele uniquely delves into the depths of modern society and its issues. As Peele continues his career as a director, expect to see more horror movies that encourage audiences to question and re-examine current social issues.