After the wild success of Get Out, writer and director Jordan Peele proved that he knows how to craft a horror movie. Now he’s back with Us, a film that follows a family being terrorized by their doubles.
The first trailer for Us dropped on Christmas Day, and we have not stopped being haunted by the nightmarish images.
The film reunites Black Panther stars Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke as married parents of two adorable kids. At the start of the trailer, the family enjoys a little 90s hip-hop in the form of Luniz’s “I’ve Got 5 on It.” They head to the beach, have a friendly chat with Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale), and seem to be enjoying a lovely little vacation.
Then things go wrong. Really, really wrong.
Four figures arrive at the family’s house later that night. And they are…them. Each one faces a horrifying–and apparently murderous–double. The action quickly spirals out of control as the doubles in red jumpsuits seemingly murder everyone they encounter. But given that this is a psychological nightmare from Jordan Peele, the truth is almost certainly more complicated than that.
Peele recently said that Us is about “the simple truth that we are our own worst enemies.” The movie seems to be a disturbingly literal take on that idea, with nightmarish doppelgangers of the family arriving in the night to wreak havoc. Peele referred to them as “The Tethered” in an interview with EW.
He also revealed a list of movies he encouraged Nyong’o to watch as research for her role: Dead Again, The Shining, The Babadook, It Follows, A Tale of Two Sisters, The Birds, Funny Games, Martyrs, Let the Right One In, and The Sixth Sense. All of those films focus on psychological horror more than any other type of scares. They also trade on dopplegangers, uninvited guests, and unusual family dynamics.
Fan theories have already started cropping up online. This is the internet, after all, so we’ve got to speculate wildly ahead of the March 14th release date. Are they clones? Experiments gone wrong? Evil twins? Psychological manifestations or our darkest thoughts?
Twitter has already pointed out a few telling details that might be clues. When Nyong’o’s character tries to get her son to snap along to the beat of the song, her rhythm is out of sync. It’s the subtlest hint that things aren’t what they seem even before the horror begins.
The little boy is named Jason, just like the villain of Friday the 13th. And like Jason Vorhees, both the boy and his doppleganger wear masks. The double’s face is revealed to be horribly burned, with scar tissue sealing his mouth shut, in one chilling scene. Is it my imagination, or is Lupita Nyong’o’s double also burned?
White rabbits are all over the place in the trailer. Is this a hint at a dark Wonderland kind of narrative, or maybe a nod to following the White Rabbit in The Matrix? Or is the explanation slightly more mundane? The rabbits seemed to be test animals in a lab, suggesting that the root of the horror is related to a scientific experiment.
And who is the little girl? She’s not in the car with the family at the beginning, but there’s a 3rd kid who sure looks like the other children.
My personal theory–which we should all remember in a few months just in case I turn out to be right–is that it’s a horror version of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I think the happy families we see at the beginning of the film have undergone some kind of procedure to literally rip bad memories or negative emotions out of their minds, creating these nightmarish doppelgangers.
What do you think is happening in the trailer?