BY: GABY MORENO
Review By: Gaby Moreno
Release date: March 22, 2019
Main Cast: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Anna Diop
Brief synopsis from online:
Hello Hip Hop Heads and Horror Fans,
Today I will be reviewing Jordan Peele’s film, “Us“, that he directed, produced and wrote! I went to see this movie the Friday night that it came out! I left the theater with so many different interpretations, and I was left to process. Watching the film in theaters was definitely an adventure. What I love about Peele’s films is they grab the viewer and make us willing participants. I felt fully immersed in the film. He knows how to develop the characters to the point you care what happens to each of them. This was the case with the Wilson family. There are scenes where I wanted to laugh, cry, be frightened, wanted to yell and cheer for them.
This film is a horror masterpiece! Jordan Peele did it again! He once again created an original concept and story. I loved that he created a new doppelgänger mythology and added to the lore. As well as continued his trend with giving black actors the protagonist and lead roles. It is amazing the representation Peele has continued to bring to the forefront of the horror genre. It is refreshing to see a black family as the main characters in a horror movie! Peele also did a hell of a job in blending horror with comedy. As always he inserts satire and social commentary.
The film’s main premise is about the Wilson family who goes on a family vacation to Santa Cruz, CA. I do not want to give out too much, but in the opening scene the main character and mom of the family Adelaide has suffered a traumatic experience that still seems to haunt her on this trip with her family. She finally opens up to her husband that when she was a kid she saw her doppelgänger and she thinks that her double is still out to get her! Her doppleganger, “Red” indeed comes back for a vengeance, but it is much deeper than the surface I leave it at that.
What I took from the movie is that Adelaide and Red both came from two different worlds (above ground) and (underground). Yet each one chose their own fate. One led to success another to self-pity, but became angry that it finally drove her to form the “tethered” rebellion.
This film comes at the time of the Post Trump era. Where we are continuously being fed ignorance from the news to spread fear that “the outsiders” aka “immigrants” are coming in waves to cross the border illegally. When in reality we should be looking at ourselves! We are privileged here as Americans and sometimes we fail to see this when we are making ourselves out to be the victims. We all have our demons and sins we carry and some of us pass it onto our children. For instance the twist ending that the true doppelgänger was Adelaide all along and the only one who now knows this is her son “Jason” who witnesses “Adelaide” murder “Red” in the underground. Now Jason carries this secret or burden.
The film can also be said to connect with the following topics: immigration (migration), homelessness, and classism. Also the fact that the United States keeps repeating history and not owning up to the violence and damage they have caused in the past. They write out certain oppressed groups out of the history books. They tend to forget the fact this country was built on Native American genocide, slavery, and now mass incarceration geared to oppress minorities. Which brings me back to the film the way Adelaide repressed the memory of being the true doppelganger and now her actions have a direct connection as to why the “tethered” decided to rise up!
The U.S. also has its duality, we have better living situations than other countries, technology, and we are a melting pot. This film was created to spark conversation, start a dialogue of how each of us can change within in a positive way and work with each other. As corny as it sounds together we can achieve more than divided. This means all social status, creed, gender, sexual preference, race, etc. It does not come easy, but we gotta start with ourselves.
I know it might not be the time with Michael Jackson’s past being brought back, but his song “Man in the Mirror” fits perfectly with the theme of this movie. The line I am referring to is: “If you want to make the world a better place, Take a look at yourself, and then make a change!” You can see Michael Jackson’s influence in this film. More specifically the “Thriller” music video that has certain homages throughout the film. Even in an interview Peele said Michael is the patron saint of duality. I believe his duality is due to his music and philanthropist side, but also the allegations. I always wanted a sequel to the Thriller music video since at the end we see Michael Jackson’s evil smile and his iconic yellow eyes showing the viewer he was the “werewolf/monster” the whole time. But his girl is made to believe it was all a nightmare! The final scene where Adelaide smirks at her son Jason is a direct homage to Thriller. She is confirming our suspicion that she was the doppelgänger the whole time!
Lupita’s performance as both Adelaide and Red was phenomenal she deserves another Oscar!!! Playing two totally opposing characters or are they? Don’t we all have a darker and lighter side and it forms only one of Us! Regardless Lupita showed off her versatility as an actress. Can’t wait to see what role she plays next!
The music or should I say score was once again composed by Michael Abels! The score was amazingly haunting! I love that Jordan Peele is all about originality and decided to have Abels compose a brand new score. The opening shot of the bunnies was made creepier with the score that is a mix of opera and eeriness. I loved the choice of songs chosen to be in the movie, I Got 5 On It, Janelle Monae’s I like That, Fuck the Police and Why You Treat Me So Bad. I am really glad Peele has opened up the lane for rap and r&b songs to be in horror movies!
As a twin this movie hit me even deeper. It reminded me of the stereotype that there is an evil and good twin. That is one of the most common questions people always ask my twin or I. I have always disliked that question. The truth is we all have this obsession with good vs. evil. The reality is we all have a good and bad side that lives within us! We are our worst enemy and all have a shadow self!
Peele has created his own lane and sub genre for horror and given us new heroes and heroines, as well as villains! He has started a new universe of monsters that can even lead to potential sequels. I love how he drops easter eggs, foreshadows and horror references. He has easily become a master of horror. He knows that our primal fear is about our day to day reality. That is what makes a film scary when they get in touch with things we deal with on a daily basis.
This review can go on for hours, but I will cut it short (pun intended). I will most likely continue having new interpretations as I continue to process this horror masterpiece! I have heard so many interpretations of this film and it goes to show how of a genius Peele is. I love that this film has sparked conversation. This film forces you to self reflect and ask yourself who are we to judge others when we ourselves are not perfect! He has created films that make you think and search within yourself and I think that is beautiful!
In the meantime if you have not seen the film go see it! It is worth every single penny and the experience is like no other! Haven’t felt this thrill from a horror movie since “Get Out” lol! Jordan Peele has proved himself to be a high contender in the horror genre! I can’t wait what his complex mind comes up with next!
Horror Influences/Homages/Easter Eggs:
C.H.U.D.: Tunnels & homeless
Jaws t-shirt: suspense and takes place at the beach
Goonies: Adventure / underground
Invasion of the Body Snatchers: The primal scream/moan the tethered use to communicate with each other
Hands Across America: 1986 benefit campaign to do a human chain to raise money for homelessness, hunger and people in poverty. This is what Red used to inspire her rebellion.
Jeremiah 11:11 Bible Verse: “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.”
Werewolf Mask: Jason (son) wears this throughout the film. The werewolf is still a human who transforms into a monster. Duality!
Thriller: mentioned above in my blog
Night of the Living Dead: The “tethered” takeover just like the zombies.
Nightmare on Elm Street: Jason’s doppleganger is burned and the gloves the tethered wear.
The Lost Boys: in film takes place at the Santa Cruz Pier and beach where the film was filmed. As well as in the opening scene Adelaide’s mom mentions they are filming a movie at the boardwalk.
The Invitation: I might be far off, but when Gabe and his doppelgänger are fighting on the boat and his doppelgänger screams and seems to be communicating with other doppelgängers reminded me at the end of this film where the main character realizes the cult is taking over Los Angeles and his friends aren’t the only casualties.
Bunnies: Peele mentions he finds bunnies creepy since they look cuddly but have a scary smirk on their faces and seem to look past you.
Scissors: I took this as a weapon that normally scared me as a kid. I remember in elementary school when the teacher teaches you how to properly pass scissors so you do not accidentally cut your classmate. Peele states that scissors are created by two parts to them which they have a duality to them.
Trauma: Repressing memory after a traumatic experience
Fuck the Police: Police never save the day for black people or minorities get there too late! Peele NEVER makes them out to be the heroes and they never arrive!
Thank you for reading my review. Hope you all enjoyed it! Until next time horror fiends and hip hop heads! While you’re at it follow my blog on social media @7octoberz and Facebook!