By Carmen Saffioti
Published: March 27th, 2019
Jordan Peele’s second feature film reveals new layers of the director’s artistic direction. Us is unlike most other horror films– deeply strange with an ambiguous meaning. Audience members were visibly puzzled and were left wondering what the true meaning of the film was.
If you are looking to be scared, you will be disappointed. Although Peele explicitly stated that Us is a horror film, audience members often erupted into laughter. However, that laughter was not so much out of humor, but rather out of nervous tension. The film is horror– psychological horror which is a characteristic of Peele’s style so far. There were multiple allusions to Kubrick’s The Shining, a classic psychological horror– showing Peele’s possible inspiration. Currently, I am unsure of what I thought of the film. Us is a film that will resonate differently for each viewer– it’s a film that will reflect back the energy you put into it.
Peele’s last film, Get Out, focuses on the psychological anatomy of its central character. In Us, we get to the deepest thoughts and fears of the main character– Adelaide. As a child, Adelaide was traumatized by a vision of a “mirror girl.” As an adult, she returns to where she grew up as a child, where fear is amplified as she believes the mirror girl is still following her.
The choice to focus in on one character works very well in Peele’s films, as audience members get attached to Adelaide and even being to see themselves in her. Lupita Nyong’o does an excellent job of portraying an emotionally conflicted character, it is clear that this part was not an easy one due to the ambiguous nature of her character’s trauma. Despite the odd and intriguing circumstances of the plot, the film is truly a focus of this character.
The soundtrack of this film is truly unique, songs like Fuck tha Police and I Got 5 on It are just two examples of the odd, yet strangely fitting songs, that seem to be an ambiguous take on race relations. Just like with Get Out, Peele uses the music not just to add some sort of noise to the film, but to add another layer of meaning. The score of the film is striking as well, it is minimalistic and memorable yet incredibly eerie. The trailer’s music is a perfect example of how Peele manipulates popular songs into something more sinister.
Us is a movie that I would recommend seeing twice in order to truly absorb its message. Fans are still trying to dissect all of the hidden messages, symbolism, and themes. It is a film that is so rich in meaning and so ambiguous that years later people will still be deciphering and discussing Peele’s intentions. Although The Shining was one of the main inspirations for Us, I honestly believe that the two films are comparable in artistic value.