Jordan Peele’s follow-up to Get Out is just as compelling, uncanny, and unique – though it stands apart from its predecessor. Us is by name a horror movie, but the horror is much more internal than the violence and bloodshed would suggest. When Adelaide is forced to come face-to-face with her traumatic past, her family is also faced with a sinister threat: their own doppelgangers.
These lookalikes don’t speak – except for Red, Adelaide’s double. Their silence only makes the words they say even more impactful and allows the central conflict to focus on Adelaide herself. Along with the political nature of the film, the many pop culture references, the stunning visuals, and the dialogue will haunt viewers long after the credits roll.
Updated on July 20th, 2022, by Kevin Pantoja: The upcoming release of Jordan Peele’s highly-anticipated third feature film, Nope, on July 22nd has everyone talking about the director again. Ever since he debuted with Get Out, Peele has proven himself to be a horror master. Although his follow-up, Us, wasn’t an Academy Award winner, it’s still a chilling tale that was incredibly well written and features some haunting quotes. Even three years after it was released, many of the lines from it continue to send chills down the spines of fans.
“I Needed To Make A Statement The Whole World Would See.”
Red On Her Plan
The idea of doppelgängers living under everyone is a pretty terrifying concept on its own and is even more chilling when they escape and find a way to get on the offensive. In this scene, Red admits that her goal isn’t to simply kill her shadow self but to make a statement.
They need the world to see that the Tethered exist and this isn’t just about one small tale of revenge. That puts everything on a larger scale and makes it all the more frightening. If everyone has a Tethered version out there, then this could launch a full-scale war.
“I Never Stopped Thinking About You.”
Red’s Feelings On Adelaide
The big twist in this film reveals that Adelaide is actually the Tethered version of Red, having switched places with her as a child. It makes this a film to watch multiple times and puts the entire movie in an entirely new light and changed the way the audience ultimately viewed both of them.
Red’s words about Adelaide in this scene gives the audience goosebumps. She adds, “How things could’ve been. You could’ve taken me with you.” Red doesn’t understand why Adelaide didn’t try to work together and instead choose to ruin her life, adding an even more personal level to their feud.
“Looks Like Some Sort Of F***ed Up Performance Art.”
Gabe’s Feelings On The Tethered
While Adelaide has the main connection to the Tethered in the movie, her husband Gabe is right by her side every step of the way. More often than not, Gabe says what the audience is thinking, as he’s ready to fight and defend his family as well as call out how wild everything is.
He does it again when he sees the Tethered holding hands and standing together, noting that it looks like some kind of “f***ed up performance art.” There’s something chilling about how organized the Tethered are and Gabe feels it.
“She Wasn’t A Reflection. She Was Real.”
Adelaide Explains The First Meeting With Red
Given her ties to everything happening, Adelaide had to lay things out for her husband later on in the movie. Gabe was skeptical as he wasn’t sure the tale lined up, especially given the idea that his wife had seen someone identical while in the hall of mirrors.
Adelaide, with expert delivery from the talented Lupita Nyong’o, doubles down and explains that this wasn’t a reflection but an actual person. That person was back to hunt her family and she reveals that she felt this was always coming at some point in her life.
“There’s A Family In Our Driveway”
The Line That Led To The Horror
After the success of Get Out everyone wanted to see what was next from Jordan Peele. The trailer for Us let the world know that he wasn’t going to be a one-hit-wonder. It has been called one of the best and most chilling trailers in history thanks to the music, editing, and lines like this.
There was a creepy vibe throughout but as soon as Jason looked out the window and said this line, things took a turn. It’s terrifying to look into the driveway and see the outlines of four people just standing there. The fact that they ended up being doubles of the family took things to the next level.
“You Thought I Was Dead.”
Adelaide Has Every Reason To Be Worried
Adelaide’s son Jason often plays pranks on his family, but when he goes missing at the beach, Adelaide worries that something bad has happened to him. She’s terrified of the beach because she associates it with her childhood trauma in the Hall of Mirrors. When Jason returns, he’s surprised by his mother’s concern, since he hasn’t wandered far.
Almost nonchalantly, he says to Adelaide, “You thought I was dead.” It almost sounds like an exaggeration, but Adelaide is caught off-guard. She fumbles with her words but tries to reassure Jason – only moments after yelling at him for strolling off on his own. Unconvincingly, she says she just worried he might have been taken. Jason replies, “By terrorists or perverts?” This makes one of the movie’s scariest scenes almost funny, though the reality of it isn’t comedic at all.
“Tell Me You Did Not Just Reference ‘Home Alone’.”
Sometimes Humor Can Be Scary
When the Wilson family understands the horror they’re about to face, Gabe suggests they fight back. Adelaide is reluctant; she would rather flee or hide. Gabe suggests setting booby traps, like in Home Alone. This is just one of dozens of pop culture references throughout the film, but this one in particular is incongruously humorous.
Adelaide thinks that this is definitely not the time for jokes, and she reminds him that the Tethered family knows their every move before they make it. “This is the time to run, not to be sprinkling Micro Machines on the floor.” Jason asks what Micro Machines are, while Zora asks what Home Alone is. This is another case of unexpected humor that makes the moment feel more authentic, despite the unrealistic situation waiting outside the front door.
“I Think You Look Like Yourself.”
Before the Tethered ever show up at the Wilsons’ house, Adelaide has some sort of premonition. She keeps insisting that they shouldn’t be here, but Gabe just wants her to relax. Unable to tell her husband the truth, she only tells him that the place makes her feel like “there’s this black cloud hanging over [her]” and that she doesn’t feel like herself.
Gabe clearly isn’t convinced. Because he doesn’t yet know about her childhood experience, he doesn’t understand what Adelaide is talking about. He only replies that she looks like herself, which may be an eerie way of foreshadowing what’s about to unfold. Red, of course, looks exactly like Adelaide – and in fact, she is Adelaide. Gabe is clueless that his wife isn’t the “real” Adelaide, though she looks the way she’s supposed to.
“Did You Know That There’s Fluoride In The Water That The Government Uses To Control Our Minds?”
Zora Notes Something About American Culture
This comment Zora makes may seem as innocuous as anything else she says early in the film, but it speaks to the core message of the story. The real horror of Us lies in the commentary it makes on American culture. From the beginning, there are references to Hands Across America, parodied by Jordan Peele to appear uncanny and threatening.
When Zora talks about the fluoride in the water, her words about the government controlling its citizens’ minds connects to the idea of what the Tethered represent. As Red says, they are Americans – but they hold power over the Wilson family because they know everything about them. The Tethered are also tethered to each other – they are more united than real-life Americans, like the Wilsons and their other friends.
“They Look Exactly Like Us. They Think Like Us.”
A Truly Terrifying Understanding
Adelaide soon comes to realize that not only does the doppelganger family look like the Wilson family, but they also think like them. In fact, this horror twist is even scarier than the surface-level similarities between the two families. The Reds know everything about the Wilsons, including where they’ll be, which means they have nowhere to hide.
Any strategies Adelaide and her family employs will be easily guessed by the Red family, leaving the Wilsons hopeless and helpless. On a more insidious level, the characters are terrified by the very notion that someone is privy to their inner thoughts.
“My Whole Life, I’ve Felt Like She’s Still Coming For Me.”
Adelaide Knew Revenge Was Coming
When Adelaide finally tells Gabe the story of what happened in her childhood, she speaks in such an unsettling way that the audience can feel her fear. She describes what happened in vague detail, which at the time seems normal, considering how terrifying the experience would have been for her.
At the end of the film, it’s clear that Adelaide couldn’t go into more specifics because she would have revealed her true identity. Once again, Gabe doesn’t seem convinced by what she’s saying. He dismisses her concern by saying that it happened a long time ago, but Adelaide knows what’s coming – she knows that the real Adelaide wants her life back and that she’s been planning an attack her whole life.
The Haunting Premise Of The Film
The Wilsons begin to suspect that something is wrong when they hear a disturbance outside their house. Gabe steps outside to investigate, despite his wife’s adamant pleas not to venture out into the darkness alone. Inside, Adelaide and her two children watch in fear and begin to realize what they think is impossible.
Jason, the youngest of the family, is the first to voice what he sees: “It’s us.” The others are either too disbelieving or unwilling to accept what they see. Gabe doesn’t even see what’s right in front of him, as the Reds’ faces are obscured by shadows. This unsettling moment is made more memorable by the simple, innocent words of a child.
“… Coincidences. Since We’ve Been Here, They’ve Been Happening More And More.”
Something Doesn’t Feel Right
The present-day sequence starts out without much horror, but the suspense is heavy from the very beginning. Comments from Adelaide help to set this mood and make her dread more palpable. She tries to warn Gabe about her premonition by making vague and highly unsettling statements.
“You know how sometimes things line up?” she asks him, before telling him that she’s noticed a lot of uncanny coincidences taking place since their arrival. She tells Gabe that this means Red is closer. Though Gabe insists that he believes his wife, his actions suggest otherwise. The whole thing is hard to grasp, and it’s easy to dismiss it as just a string of coincidences.
The Tethered Say They’re Like Everyone Else
When Adelaide asks the Red family what they are – not who they are – Adelaide’s doppelganger replies, “We’re Americans.” This unsettling response ties into the ideas presented to the audience from the opening shot of the film, beginning with Hands Across America. From the get-go, the Wilsons seem to fit the image of an idyllic American family – and the Reds want it for themselves.
There is a lot of hidden meaning behind the story of Us, and the satire of the American dream as well as the wry take on the national unity that Hands Across America was meant to represent is both frightening and strangely relatable to viewers.
“Once Upon A Time There Was A Girl, And The Girl Had A Shadow.”
The Story That Changed Everything
When Adelaide and Red finally reunite and get a chance to talk, much of the film’s earlier plot becomes clear, as do the Tethered’s motivations. Red explains how the Tethered operate, what their purpose is, and how she’s connected to Adelaide. This is also where the audience learns that Red and Adelaide switched places on that fateful day in the Hall of Mirrors.
Red goes on to explain why the underground tunnels were built, and that the Tethered may have been designed to control the “real” humans aboveground, but the experiment failed. This ties back to Zora’s fluoride comment. When Red says that the Tethered were then abandoned and left to fend for themselves in the darkness, this is a direct analogy for society at large and perhaps even the relationship between a government and its people.
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