Jordan Peele’s Us has shattered numerous records the past week and many of our contributors were among the first-week wave to see Jordan Peele’s new nightmarish doppelgänger horror. With a solid 95% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, there is a lot to say about Jordan Peele’s Us. From the high expectations set by Peele’s first entrance into horror, Get Out, to his use of classic horror elements what stood out the most to our contributors? Read on below as horror fans and those new to the genre open up about their experience with Jordan Peele’s Us.
Would you call yourself a horror fan?
Nikko: I would definitely consider myself a horror fan. I was raised on classic horror film series like Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. My love of horror only grew higher from there.
Swara: I’ve been a long time movie fan, but since childhood, I’ve been a scaredy-cat who wouldn’t touch horror. Even during the more violent scenes of Star Wars, such as when Luke had his hand cut off, I would run out of the room or shut my eyes. Jordan Peele, however, with his two brilliant films Us and Get Out, has made me a horror fan.
Lizzy: I am getting there. I did not use to be but I am finding myself craving more and more of the genre recently as I read a lot of horror comics, just finished both play-throughs of the Remake of Resident Evil 2 and now have seen Us.
Kate: Yes. Horror is pretty much my brand.
Carolyn: Yes. I’ve always loved horror but growing up in the Caribbean definitely shaped how I view it, for instance, I don’t watch films with heavy occult themes. Anything with a Ouija board is a big no-no for me. But it wasn’t often I saw Black people who looked like me play serious characters, which is why what Jordan Peele and the team and Monkey Paw are doing is such a big deal. His films Get Out, and Us are giving a whole new generation of Black audiences characters and stories they could connect with.
Anthony: I grew up with horror a lot younger than a child should. But rather than terrify me or worse, it actually helped me battle my overactive imagination and the things I would see in the shadows. In time, I understood it was all fake, both what was going on in the movies and the tricks my mind would play, and instead got lost in the worlds of monsters and people who have gone mad. It also meshed well with my love of video games, when survival horror started to really gain notice with Resident Evil and Silent Hill. Been a major part of who I am ever since.
LaNeysha: Absolutely! I especially love the range that horror has as a genre for storytelling. It can be entertaining, thought-provoking, and much more.
Did you go into Us with any expectations? If so, what were they?
Nikko: I went into a Thursday night screening of Us with high expectations. From the very first trailer, I felt like this movie would be incredible. It’s not the wisest choice, but given how successful, revolutionary, and increíble Get Out was, I had no doubt that Us wouldn’t deliver.
Swara: I went in expecting to be freaked out by whatever the story would reveal. I had very high expectations after seeing his work in Get Out and was expecting great performances from Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke.
Lizzy: I expected the type of movie that changes or at least makes you consider changing your world view, i.e. the type of movie the Academy should consider nominating for best picture. I was not disappointed.
Kate: I expect a lot from Jordan Peele, mainly because of the passion with which he speaks about the genre. He is a man in love and amazement with horror, so I trust him to deliver and expect him to.
Carolyn: From the first trailer I knew I would have a unique cinema experience and for the story to take me on a roller coaster ride of emotions and I wasn’t disappointed in the least.
Anthony: He set the bar pretty high with Get Out, for himself and the genre, in my opinion. I expected the same quality film or better, especially given how passionate and well versed in the genre Peele is.
LaNeysha: I’ve been excited for this movie since we saw it was announced last year. Jordan Peele’s take on horror and storytelling is unique, authentic, and original and those were the expectations I had going in. Something that wasn’t anything like I’ve seen before.
Did Jordan Peele’s Us meet your expectations?
Nikko: Through paying homages to several horror genres and creating environments and situations that had me on the edge of my seat, I can say with confidence that it met all my expectations. Not to mention all the hidden meanings within the film.
Swara: It met my expectations on a horror level, but it also left me with deep psychological and philosophical considerations that I was not expecting. In that, I love what the film imparted to me.
Lizzy: While the movie had a much different plot than I expected and tackled a much larger world and had world-building in general than I expected, overall I was still extremely pleased. This might only be March but so far this is my Best Picture winner by far.
Kate: Yes! That’s it. It not only met my expectations but blew past them. From the opening scene to the last, Peele proves that he knows this genre and how to use it to show us the worst of ourselves.
Carolyn: Without a shadow of a doubt.
Anthony: I wanted more than anything for it to meet, or even exceed my expectations, but sadly it fell just short.
LaNeysha: Oh yeah it did!
Who was your favorite character?
Nikko: I’d have to say that both Adelaide and Red were my favorite characters. Both characters were played by Lupita Nyong’o, who showed just how incredible of an actress she really is. All interactions between these characters were phenomenal and I could not look away.
Swara: It definitely has to be Adelaide/Red. Lupita Nyong’o is a powerhouse of an actress and her performance warrants her all the best actress acting nominations.
Lizzy: Adelaide. I saw a lot of myself in her trauma and tenacity. Clearly, this movie shows we can be our own worst enemy and while the conclusion drawn is a tad more complicated than that, there is definitely a conversation to be had about her experience with PTSD and just how this movie handles PTSD in women.
Kate: I have to say Adelaide/Red. There isn’t a single moment where I can not say that it was her. Lupita Nyong’o pulled off two performances while keeping them tethered together. She played in the uncanny valley and she didn’t disappoint.
Carolyn: I would have to say Adelaide, Red, and Zora. Each of them represented something I could relate to. Red for her ability to see a problem and try to find a solution as best as she could with what she had available to her. Adelaide for her protective instincts of her children and the revelation that there was more to her than meets the eye. And Zora, who like both Adelaide and Red, was able to find a strength that she didn’t know she had to protect herself and family. Lupita Nyong’o and Shahidi Joseph Wright did an amazing job portraying these characters and deserve all the accolades. They showed the bravery, vulnerability, and humanity of their characters.
Anthony: Adelaide, without question. Although I love Gabe’s humor and corny “dadness,” Adelaide is the horror fan who is screaming at the characters on-screen to use some common sense. She worked through her trauma and remained far more logical and strong for her family than anyone could honestly expect from someone in that situation. It was a sight to behold, from a character perspective and as a show of Lupita Nyong’o talent as an actor to make it all feel so real.
LaNeysha: Adelaide/Red. It’s not only Lupita’s performance that steals the show. But how these characters have left a lasting impression on me that makes me think from the point of view of both women and their motives. I even found myself having sympathy for them both and wondering who I should root for.
What was your favorite moment of Jordan Peele’s Us ?
Nikko: Given that my favorite interactions were between Red and Adelaide, I’d have to say my favorite moment was their final confrontation in the underground bunker. With Adelaide’s determination to survive, Red’s ballet-like movements and the theme music being played, this scene stands out above the rest. Honorable mentions would have to be the shot of the Wilson family first coming to the beach with the camera focusing on their shadows and when NWA’s “F*ck Tha Police” is played.
Swara: My favorite moment, looking back, had to be the reveal at the end. It was something I actually predicted at the beginning, but through thinking about it more and the implications it has for when I rewatch the film, I realized that it’s the crucial piece that makes Us a unique masterpiece.
Lizzy: The final fight. I won’t spoil anything but the choreography mixed with the flashbacks to the two ballerinas, one warped and one not, with a riveting score was just incredible cinematography.
Kate: I have a lot of them, but the title sequence in all of its simplicity and terrifying child choir glory would have to take the cake. It set me up for everything I was gonna get, and the jarring volume differences were a subtle call back to 1980s horror.
Carolyn: Since I have to choose, my favorite singular moment would have to be when Adelaide was standing at the window. Just before she turns to tell Gabe why she feels uneasy, for the brief moment her body seems to go back into her experience and tremors/convulsions. And to me, it was as though she was fighting with herself. It was at that moment I knew something wasn’t right with her. Lupita’s acting in that small moment was just as impressive as her ability to create these two distinct characters, because at the moment, as in the last scene, she was both Adelaide and Red at the same time.
Anthony: The final confrontation and climax of the film. It wrapped up quite a few loose ends into a neatly tied bow and provided some of the rawest moments of the film.
LaNeysha: Every time that horror instrumental of ”I’ve Got Five On it” played. Give me chills and I need it on my playlist.
What scared you the most?
Nikko: What scared me the most was the scene with Zora and her tethered doppelgänger Umbrae. Zora’s running for her life and Umbrae gives her a head start. Umbrae even gets ready to run the way a runner would. The film implies that Umbrae will catch up to her and kill her. Watching that definitely scared me.
Swara: This film kept me scared and thrilled throughout. What scared me the most, looking back, was the entrance of the doppelgängers to the Wilsons’ home. Feeling trapped in your home is a horror trope and Peele used it to masterful effect here.
Lizzy: Every reveals that was a slow pan showing the doppelgängers. There was not a lot of jump scares in this movie. Instead, the camera slowly would focus in on the tethered revealing them to be there all along and making you wonder why you never noticed them.
Kate: Zora VS Umbrae. Their duel, the movements, the slow reveals of speed and disappearance, well done and eerie. That being said, Eizabeth Moss’ doppelgänger was chilling.
Carolyn: It may seem odd, but the moment Umbrae disappeared from by the car and Zora kneeled down to peek under it freaked me all the way out. When I was young I had a fear of things hiding under cars and my bed, so that scene totally played on that.
Anthony: The “other” home invasion. It showed that no matter how much you have, safety is never guaranteed. It’s also the most jarring, considering most of the movie’s tension is a nice slow build up, as to where this moment is so sudden and brutal.
LaNeysha: Zora and Umbrae’s fight scene for sure. Especially the way Umbrae looked her through the windows I was just waiting for her to snatch and stab her.
Could Jordan Peele’s Us have done something better?
Nikko: If I had to choose something that could’ve been done better, it would be the humor. To be more specific, the humor coming from Winston Duke’s character Gabe when the tethered invade their home. It felt a bit out-of-place during such a tense scene. But then again, I’m fine with it being there too. That might be the only thing I can see that could’ve been done better.
Swara: I wish that we got more context provided about how the Tethered were created and more about how they are connected with their originals. But of course, that’s part of the mystery that Peele sets up.
Lizzy: I wish there was more backstory to why and how the Tethered existed.
Kate: The bread crumbs were more like bread slices toward the back half of the film, leaving the twist in plain sight. Trusting the audience a little bit more would have helped make the twist that much more shocking.
Carolyn: While I got Gabe’s humor, I know men who use humor to cover how nervous or afraid they are in uncomfortable situations, so his reactions were realistic to me, but I think there were moments he could’ve been a bit more serious.
Anthony: The reveal was a little too obvious, to where even non-horror fans could probably pick it up before the movie’s end. Also, there were too many unanswered questions and improbabilities surrounding the Tethered. This isn’t from a lack of world-building, however, as a fair amount of information we are provided through the characters and story actually strains the suspension of disbelief towards the end of the film, thus creating more questions and not the good kind.
LaNeysha: I wanted more backstory on the Tethered. I wanted to know who their creators were and what happened to them.
Review Jordan Peele’s Us in one sentence:
Nikko: Jordan Peele’s Us is a horror film that will not only have its audiences scared but also talking about all its possible meanings.10/10
Swara: Us is a brilliant horror film that smartly uses its storytelling to get us, the audience, to confront our deepest fears about ourselves. 10/10
Lizzy: Us has gotten me addicted to the horror genre. It never relies on horror tropes and instead has an original premise that focuses on exploring the human psyche and humanities biggest enemy, ourselves. 10/10
Kate: Us is a master class in horror directing, from the terrifying use and subversion of tropes to the pacing and chilling score, Jordan Peele has horror in his DNA. 10/10
Carolyn: Us is the kind of films I love to watch because it not only entertains but makes you think about it and what it means for a long time. 9/10
Anthony: Peele continues to impress with his skills as a writer, director, and producer with Us; but despite his wonderful way of weaving real-world issues and messages into a horrifyingly entertaining tale, it suffers from plot issues and hand-holding that otherwise would have made this movie the masterpiece I hoped it to be. 7.5/10
LaNeysha: Us is truly a unique and original work of art that explores the human identity through the lens of horror that leaves the audience with numerous questions and theories to dissect. 10/10