The new master of thrilling scares amazes viewers once again
The Santa Clara
April 4, 2019
The term “horror film” is generally synonymous with “trope machine.” Whether it’s a haunted house, serial killers, ghosts, zombies or demons, these movies become primarily focused on that one source of fear. But what if a horror flick was able to slash our expectations and establish a new genre?
That was a precedent established in 2017 with the release of Jordan Peele’s “Get Out.” The film was a smash hit, and captured the ids, egos and superegos of people the world over. Yet is the success of “Get Out” something that can be replicated with a similar level of originality? Will nuance remain when reinvented?
That’s the joy of Peele’s new nightmarish horror movie “Us.” The film creates a new angle for horror films and leaves no room for predictability. People have been searching for symbolism and analyzing the movie to death for deeper meaning. “Us” provides closure at the end that is in some ways more unsettling than “Get Out.” This movie was so satisfying to watch because it combines the nostalgia of classic horror flicks with Peele’s signature style.
Beginning with a flashback to 1986 at the Santa Cruz beach boardwalk, a young girl and her parents wander the park to play carnival games. While other people around are laughing and having a good time, the parents’ bickering distracts them from noticing their daughter has wandered off. The girl, in a trance, enters a house of horrors filled with mirrors. As the girl’s footsteps echo and the lights burn out, she snaps back into reality as she sees an image of herself—except it isn’t her.
In the present day, the Wilsons, a family of four with parents A delaide (Lupita Nyong ’o) and Gabriel (Winston Duke), their daughter Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and son Jason (Evan Alex) headed for a vacation getaway in Santa Cruz. The family doesn’t make it through the night at their beach house because a strange family appears in the driveway of the home. The kicker? The family in matching red jumpsuits look like them.
The identical family— or “tethered,” as Peele refers to them—are the result of an abandoned U.S. government attempt to create controllable human clones. Now, these beings have left their underground villages and want to take the place of their counterparts.
“Us” has mixed tones and moods that provide room for humor, especially through Gabriel’s light-hearted joking. Each performance is form-fitted and executed with authenticity. Not to mention the musical choices for the film were perfect. It set the tone for each scene and changed the mood of the audience.
“Us” is very lifelike. It’s not your average horror movie stacked with corny scares and unrealistic storylines. This movie is scary because it leaves room for multiple interpretations and possibilities. There is no right answer or single argument. If you watch the movie twice, you will start to notice small subtleties that you would not have seen the first time.
There are symbolic messages in the entire film. Rabbits are one of the many recurring symbols such as a tester rabbit locked up in cages in the opening credits, Zora’s shirt, in the family cabin, and hopping around during the film’s climax.
“Rabbits symbolize rebirth, which fits with the intentions of the tethered to start a new chapter living on the surface,” Peele said. “But, connecting with a greater theme of duality, rabbits are often used as test subjects, which represents the lives of these tethered as an abandoned experiment.”
We can also look at the rabbit as an allusion in the cinema. For example, the animal is known for going down the rabbit hole in “Alice in Wonderland.” Which is literally what happens to the real Adelaide in 1986 when she travels into the funhouse on the Santa Cruz beach.
Generally, horror movies stay in one location and hardly leave leg room to move. Films like “The Shining ” or “The Exorcist” all take place inside of a house. When the Wilson family settles into their beach house, it almost feels like they’ll never escape their tethers and end up in the typical horror house goose chase. However, the Wilson family doesn’t defend or stay in the house but tries to escape. The change of scenery made the film more realistic and convincing.
Jordan Peele fans will be happy to know that they can get more from the comedian, actor and director by watching his reboot of “The Twilight Zone.” This has recently been released for everyone to watch from the comfort of their own home. Peele’s creation is jump-scare-filled with a deeper and muddled message behind it. His type of work has the potential to revolutionize horror genre filmmaking.
Contact Azariah Joel at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.