After his Oscar-winning horror satire “Get Out” comes along Us (2019) a new, symbolic nightmare by Jordan Peele is coming to USA cinemas, in which good and evil are first clearly separated from each other and then increasingly merge into one. We reveal more about this in our review.
The Plot Summary
The Wilson family is looking forward to their long-awaited vacation. Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o), her husband Gabe (Winston Duke) and their two children Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex) drive to Santa Cruz on a sunny weekend to enjoy time on the beach and finally to meet her friends, the Tylers (Elisabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker), again. When she arrives at her holiday home, Adelaide soon feels unwell. An atmosphere of fear hangs over her “like a great black cloud.” Strange coincidences pile up and when her son disappears from the face of the earth for a few minutes, the worried mother feels the desire to go home again as quickly as possible. But it shouldn’t come to that. One night, a family armed with scissors stands in the Wilsons’ driveway. Four people, a married couple and two children, who look like the family they are about to attack, seem to be pursuing a sinister plan. Who are these doppelgangers and what are they up to?
Us Movie explanation of the ending
With his directorial debut “Get Out” two years ago, Jordan Peele, who is primarily known as a comedian, managed to add a modern classic to horror cinema; a satire with many comedic motifs on a – in the truest sense of the word – black and white society within the USA. As a quick summary: In “Get Out,” an African American goes to live with his white girlfriend’s in-laws – and soon finds himself in a nightmare of open racism. Peele understands playing with opposites, with the unspoken, with the underlying threat. But he has now shed this subliminal quality for “Us”. Certainly also because he recently stated that he was a little disappointed that not everyone agreed that “Get Out” was really a horror film. The exaggerated humor is too dominant here, although the filmmaker himself is a huge horror fan and wanted one thing above all: to scare his viewers! Peele has succeeded in one thing: in the case of “Us”, there is now no longer any doubt as to which genre the film belongs to. However, that doesn’t mean that Peele, who is once again responsible for the script and direction, is content with simplicity here; on the contrary. “Us” is not far cruder and also more direct in its horror motivation, but the film is primarily intellectual and is a fascinating game of symbolism and associations.
Who are the strangers who gained entry to the Wilsons’ house?
Rabbits, ballerinas, scissors or just the song “I Got 5 On it” by Luniz, which runs like a red thread through the film (which, by the way, also merges with Michael Abel’s menacing instrumental score in the film itself in exactly the same way as already hinted at in the trailer) : It doesn’t matter which detail of “Us” you as a viewer start with, if you then research the symbolic meaning of the individual motifs, further, countless interpretive levels open up to you, which – we can reveal this much without spoilers – primarily Promote the idea of bringing opposites together. The doppelganger has always been considered the evil, soulless – in short: the opposite – image of man himself (see also our review of Denis Villeneuve’s “Enemy”). Now Jordan Peele lets these two, good and evil, collide directly and creates ultimate terror. Suddenly we have to deal with the darkest corners of our souls, which are otherwise so easy to ignore. But the auteur filmmaker doesn’t leave it at this simple train of thought and doesn’t open directly with such a force of motifs that invite further thought. As mentioned at the beginning, Peele first wants to create terror. And he succeeds by establishing “We” as a classic home invasion shocker. Only with the variation that those who are terrorizing the Wilson family look exactly like themselves.
But behind the horror scenario, which is initially limited to the Wilsons’ four walls, there are much larger dimensions, which Jordan Peele already announces with the help of a text panel at the beginning of the film and with a vaguely interpretable prologue. However, you will probably only understand what exactly is behind it if you have already seen the film (which is why you actually want to see “Us” again immediately after the end). The change in setting – from the Wilsons’ holiday home to the open streets of Santa Cruz – excellently reflects how the narrative aspects slowly shift from a small, manageable conflict to a large conspiracy; In addition, Peele makes it clear relatively quickly that with “Us” he is drifting into supernatural spheres. “Us” does not take place in our reality. But for good reasons, what exactly Jordan Peele is creating here cannot be revealed. This is different than in the case of “Get Out”. For a long time, the filmmaker and storyteller kept quiet about the world in which his satire is actually anchored. What’s not so different from “Get Out” is the style he shows here too. Apart from the many symbolic motifs, which, despite their sometimes seemingly arbitrary appearance (keyword: rabbits), ultimately always fit narratively into the larger whole, the film is subject to a clear visual order. Including a color concept focused on red details, surreal, oppressive tracking shots (Mike Gioulakis, “It Follows”) and radically choreographed (night) dream sequences that blur more and more with reality until, true to the narrative concept, you ultimately no longer know which world you are actually in.
What did the young girl just see?
Above all, the idea of having both the protagonists and their respective doppelgangers embodied by the same actors helps ensure that “We” slowly makes its way into the subconscious of the audience. Lupita Nyong’o (Oscar for “12 Years a Slave”), Winston Duke (“Black Panther”) as well as the two newcomers Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex, who are making their feature film debut here, act completely differently depending on which character they are currently playing. Nevertheless, the embodiment of their literally opposite characters is taken away from them at all times. They become a kind of negative mirror image of their counterpart, sometimes not speaking at all, sometimes as if they were breathing in instead of breathing out when speaking (David Lynch would probably have a lot of fun with that), which is physically only possible for very few words in a row. They focus on their other self, dance around it and ultimately murder – and in “Us” it’s much bloodier than it was in “Get Out”. Classic jump scares, i.e. scenes in which a sudden noise or a suddenly flashing image forces you to jump out of your seat in the cinema, are only very rare here. And even then, you’re terrified, especially because what’s shown on the screen is barely tangible. In “Us” everything feels somehow remote from the start. Everything except the four protagonists. Until, over the course of the 120 minutes, you begin to ask yourself whether it might not be these who don’t fit into the picture. But the really scary thing about “Us” is ultimately the thought about ourselves: How much evil is actually in us?
Conclusion: “Us” is scarier than “Get Out,” but it also challenges the viewer even more mentally. A very effective, extremely bloody home invasion shocker becomes a symbolic game with the classic understanding of good and evil. In the end, you no longer know whether you can really draw this line.
“Us” can be seen in USA cinemas nationwide from March 21st.