Life

Everything we know about Us, Jordan Peele’s creepy follow-up to Get Out

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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Starring Lupita Nyong’o and Elisabeth Moss, this movie is one of the most talked-about new releases of the year.

With Get Out, director Jordan Peele did something truly remarkable.

In only his first film, director Peele managed to make a horror movie that opened the eyes of audiences to what life is like for a young black man. It was a film about racism that was at once both supernatural and totally plausible. It ushered the phrase “the sunken place” into common parlance. It turned lead actor Daniel Kaluuya into a star. It made $255.4 million (£195.5 million) at the box office and it won Peele an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

Suffice to say, anticipation for whatever Peele decided to do next was high. Luckily, we don’t have to wait long: Peele’s follow-up Us is in cinemas this month. 

Starring Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke and Elisabeth Moss, it tells the story of a family vacation gone terribly, violently wrong. A trailer has been released but almost all details of the plot and characters are being kept secret by Peele and the cast.

So what do we know about this movie? 

What is Us about?

The plot synopsis for Us is deliberately brief. Gabe (Winston Duke) and Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o) take their children to a beach house for a holiday with some friends. But the trip is derailed when a family of strangers arrive unannounced at the house.

In a new interview with Rolling Stone, Peele has confirmed that Us is a full-blown horror movie designed to give everyone some serious nightmares for many, many months to come. The film is a riff on the idea of doppelgangers and the potential for a split personality within us all, something that Peele calls ‘The Tethered’. 

Us is also, he stresses, not exclusively about race. “It’s important to me that we can tell black stories without it being about race,” Peele told Rolling Stone

“I realised I had never seen a horror movie of this kind, where there’s an African-American family at the centre that just is. After you get over the initial realisation that you’re watching a black family in a horror film, you’re just watching a movie. You’re just watching people. I feel like it proves a very valid and different point than Get Out, which is, not everything is about race. Get Out proved the point that everything is about race. I’ve proved both points!” 

What have the critics said about Us? 

They love it. 

The Wall Street Journal called it “compulsory seeing for everyone who loves the horror genre, the movie medium and the notion of saying sage things about contemporary life without straying from entertainment’s twisty path.” 

Vox deemed it: “horrific in a way that hangs onto your gut when it’s all over.” 

For Rolling Stone, the praise is all Nyong’o’s: “Nyong’o delivers one of the great performances in horror movie history, as Jordan Peele shows us a world tragically untethered to its own humanity, its empathy, its soul. If that’s not a scarefest for its time, I don’t know what is.”

Lupita Nyong'o in Jordan Peele's Us. Image: Universal Pictures

Lupita Nyong’o is a revelation in Us

According to Rotten Tomatoes, Us is certified fresh, with a 95% positive rating, though there have been some dissenting views from critics including Vanity Fair’s Richard Lawson. “Little in Us lands with the wallop it should—neither the faint and meandering sociopolitical observations nor the film’s baser, more visceral aspects,” he wrote

Who is in the cast of Us?

Winston Duke and Lupita Nyong’o star as parents Gabe and Adelaide Wilson, while Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex play their onscreen children Zora and Jason. Elisabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker star as their friends Mr and Mrs Tyler.

“I had to go to some dark corners of my being,” Nyong’o told Rolling Stone of the role. “She carried this anticipatory gravity in that scene where you just know,” Peele added, of a moment in the movie when Nyong’o’s character reaches for a pair of scissors menacingly. “I feel like her performance is on par with Hannibal Lecter gravitas in this movie.” 

What has Lupita Nyong’o said about Us

In a new interview with marie claire US, Lupita Nyong’o has spoken how she fought tooth and nail for the role of Adelaide Wilson in Us

“‘I will hold the boom for you,’” Nyong’o recalled telling Peele. “‘I will drag cable. I’ll do it all and anything.’ I knew I had to work with him. In that meeting, he asked me ‘What is your process as an actress? What do you need from a director?’ And I just started to cry. He was like, ‘What happened?’ And I was like, ‘I’ve just never been asked that.’ I could just tell in that question was a man who understand what it meant to be an actor, what is the vulnerability, and the support that is most fruitful to get the most out of a creative, artistic encounter. And that was just, ‘Oh my God, why can’t he direct every movie I do?’” 

Nyong’o wanted to work with Peele after seeing Get Out five times in cinemas. “I kept going back as though I didn’t have anything else to do,” Nyong’o said. “I couldn’t get enough of that movie.” 

For Nyong’o, the strength of movies like Get Out and Us is in their slow-burning psychological terror.

“I can tell you gory horror doesn’t scare me,” Nyong’o said. “The horror that scares me the most is psychological. I think that’s why Get Out resonated with me so much, because what’s so scary is that the protagonist is going through some mind-warping situations. The world as he knows it is not what it seems to be. And that is terrifying.” 

“Racism was the thing on the table for Get Out, but whatever it is, when you’re experiencing something that nobody else is acknowledging, that is maddening and frightening.” 

Is there a trailer for Us?

There is, and this is it:

What are some fan theories about what will happen in Us?

Some believe that the doppelganger family, what Peele calls ‘The Tethered’, are actually the real heroes of the piece and the Wilsons are the villains.

Others looked at the prevalence of twin and double imagery in the trailer, from the wall of rabbits to the second family, as a hint that the movie might explore the subject of cloning. 

According to this theory, ‘The Tethered’ aren’t merely a split personality or a doppelganger but a clone.

Some talked about the significance of the song that plays in the trailer, which features the lyric “I got five on it.” Maybe this could be a hint that there’s a missing fifth member of the Wilson family, who could become very significant as the movie goes on.

Drawing on this even further, could the movie be a big metaphor for trauma? Could Adelaide be coping with the aftermath of killing a child, and could the presence of ‘The Tethered’ be a symptom of her PTSD?

Or maybe it’s a sequel to Get Out after all and Peele is trolling everyone?

What is the release date of Us?

Us will be in cinemas in the US and UK on 22 March. 

Images: Universal Studios

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Hannah-Rose Yee

Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer, podcaster and recent Australian transplant in London. You can find her on the internet talking about pop culture, food and travel.

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