Why “Us” is a Striking Film

Jordan Peele’s “Us” is a gripping film with a lot to unpack from the opening moment until the credits. It is an interesting look at how we as Americans separate ourselves into the haves and have-nots.

Mole People!

So to start, there is an obvious reference to people living underground–mole people–in that the “Tethered” live underground… obviously. It sets up a great visual of these people who are us but aren’t like us and are just below our feet. Peele gives an interesting duality to the whole situation–especially in the later scenes when the twist is revealed–that pushes the audience into questioning which group is the abnormal one.

Haves and Have-nots

Throughout the movie we see the family interact with the “Tethered” and exchange blows, but the best parts are when the two families interact with each other. When the above-ground family is ushered to sit down towards the start, an important question is asked, “Who are they?” Jason, played by Evan Alex, had the perfectly gripping response,”It’s Us.” While this seemed like the obvious answer, the way the movie plays out makes it hit so much harder.

“It’s Us…”

Jason, played by Evan Alex

The “Tethered” are linked to the above-ground humans in an odd puppet/puppeteer relationship that gives way to an interesting mimicry of actions. This is explained mostly by Lupita Nyong’o’s Red, or was it Adelaide… I don’t know anymore? Either way, the relationship–even through a link–is presented to the audience as a have vs. have-not situation without being too over the head with it.

Living above ground means you grew up with certain amenities (the sun and wind for instance), and if you grew up below ground you grew up a bit harsher (eating raw rabbit for example). Because of these differences, the “Tethered” looked like them, but they definitely were not them.

Bloody Freaking Murder

The last talking point that I’ll touch on is the strong use of blood and violence to make the movie more visceral. If Peele would’ve been forced to bring this film down to a PG-13 rating, it would’ve hurt how the audience reacted to it. If it doesn’t make the viewer gasp, cringe and shudder, it won’t stick with them, and when the subject matter is this interesting it should stick. And it makes it more badass!

Us was released March 22, 2019, and it broke the record for original horror opening weekend. The trailer for it is shown below.

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