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Thursday, July 9, 2020

A look at Jordan Peele’s “Us.”

Illustration by Shannon DeLurio

By Emily Feek

Jordan Peele’s “Us,” was a hit in the box office, and it’s no wonder, considering the success of it’s 2017 predecessor, “Get Out.”

While “Get Out” was a notable combination of commentary and suspense, “Us” hones in more on the horror.

“Us” is about the Wilson family, who encounter the “tethered,” lookalikes intent on killing and replacing each family member, while vacationing in Santa Cruz, California.  

Not only does the film dodge several tropes and clichés that modern attempts at horror stumble into, but it does so with a stunning cast, killer attention to detail and perhaps best of all, originality.

We experience fear when we can relate to the characters onscreen and when we begin to genuinely care for their safety. The protagonists of the film, the Wilson family, are portrayed as lovable and relatable from the beginning of the film, making it easy to relate to them and feel their fear.

While many horror films revolve around innate fear of the unknown, “Us” seeks to scare it’s viewers through introspection and warped versions of familiar characters. Although the “tethered”  look like regular people at first glance, their movements and nonverbal nature are just inhuman enough to lend them an air of unnaturalness.

The balance between being similar to us and yet inhuman makes audience members fear not only the tethered, but the possibility that we could also be tethered. 

One thing that stands out about Peele’s horror film is the nature of the antagonists. The tethered are revealed early in the film, and characterized just as soon.

The acting behind the “tethered” is what makes the movie so memorable and terrifying, with Lupita Nyong’o’s standout performance as both Adelaide Wilson and her tethered counterpart Red. Red’s deliberate movements and halting voice create a character whose very presence is unsettling.

Early in the film, Adelaide remarks that too many coincidences have happened since the Wilson family started their vacation; observant viewers will see these coincidences play out onscreen. From the repetition of the number 11 to the emphasis on reflections, these coincidences are visible.

Viewers can expect to leave the theater with some serious food for thought, because at the end of the day, “Us” raises many questions. Although some of the film’s mysteries are explained, there are still many unknowns and ideas.

How much control do we really have over our own lives, and is there really a distinct line between good and evil? Oftentimes, we are the monsters in our own lives, and “Us” serves to remind us.

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