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  • Writer's pictureAllan Major

Us 2019 Reviewed

Updated: 4 days ago

Featured Image For Us 2019 Reviewed. An unsettling poster featuring a woman's tearful face with a gloved hand silencing her.
When your reflection tells a story of horror, the nightmare looks back at you.

Shadows cling like stubborn stains. Even the California sun can't bleach them fully from the Santa Cruz boardwalk, not when there's something darker bleeding through the carnival colors. Jordan Peele understands this—the way darkness has a life of its own, burrowing and twisting until it breaks the surface, forever altering the shape of the familiar. His films are unsettling excavations, stripping away the veneer of normalcy to reveal what pulses and writhes below.

Us 2019 Key Takeaways

  • The Duality of Self: The film forces us to confront the darkness within ourselves, the potential for cruelty and violence that mirrors our virtues. The Tethered represent the suppressed, shadow aspects of our personalities.

  • Social Inequality and Unrest: The Tethered can be seen as an embodiment of the marginalized, the underclass in society. The film forces a consideration of the consequences of systemic social neglect and the potential for revolt.

  • The Illusion of Control: Despite the Wilson's seemingly comfortable life, events spiral violently beyond their control. The film reminds us that safety and security can be fragile illusions.

  • The Danger of Unresolved Trauma: Adelaide's childhood trauma is the root that feeds the horror. It highlights how unaddressed past wounds can shape our present reality and the importance of healing.

  • The Fragility of the American Dream: The seemingly idyllic setting of Santa Cruz and the nuclear family ideal unravel. The film critiques notions of the American dream, hinting at underlying rot and potential for societal collapse.

  • Family as Strength and Liability: The Wilsons' bond is their primary weapon against the Tethered, yet their familial connections also become vulnerabilities. Love and fear intertwine within the complex dynamics of a family.

  • The Power of Symbolism: Peele uses rich symbolism (Hands Across America, rabbits, Jeremiah 11:11) that open up the film to multiple interpretations. Viewers might have different takeaways depending on how they decode these symbols.

Girl recoils in horror watching Us, a look of disgust and fear on her face.
It wasn't the blood that scared her, it was the twisted smiles of their doubles... smiles that mirrored her own.

In Us, the familiar is the face of Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong'o), etched with a past trauma that ripples through her every glance. A summer trip to Santa Cruz with her husband Gabe (Winston Duke) and their children, Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex), should be a respite. But when a chance encounter on the beach sparks Adelaide's unease, the shadows come creeping back.

That night, they arrive. Four figures silhouetted against the Wilsons' driveway. At first, just unsettling. Then, undeniably horrific. Dressed in red jumpsuits, wielding golden scissors, these figures aren't strangers – they're twisted mirror images of the Wilson family themselves.

Peele doesn't just play with the duality of doppelgängers, he weaponizes it. The 'Tethered,' as these doubles are known, embody some primal echo of the Wilsons. Their movements are a macabre parody – jerky, animalistic, yet chillingly recognizable. Through Lupita Nyong'o's haunted eyes, we see Adelaide grapple with the monstrous, distorted reflection of herself. Nyong'o delivers a performance of astonishing range, her voice shifting from Adelaide's uneasy hesitancy to the guttural rasp of her double, Red.

But Us isn't solely a psychological horror film. It's a relentless home invasion, a visceral struggle for survival. The claustrophobic tension of the family trapped within their own house is punctured by moments of bloody chaos as the Wilson family desperately fights off their mirror images.

Man watches Us, frozen in terror, as the doppelgangers infiltrate the home on screen.
He wasn't sure what was worse, seeing them on TV, or the nagging feeling their eyes were on him right now.

Jordan Peele Makes His Return

Peele's films are puzzle boxes, each scene a gleaming, deceptively simple piece that begs to be turned over, slotted into the emerging, and deeply unsettling picture. Allegory crackles through the film. The Tethered, with their subterranean existence and crimson uniforms, evoke images of social unrest, of forgotten and ignored underclasses rising up to claim what they feel they are owed.

He references the 1986 Hands Across America event – that flawed but hopeful attempt to create a human chain across the United States – as the Tethered form their own terrifying chain. There's commentary on class, race, and the dark duality that Peele suggests lurks within us all.

The cinematography and the unnerving score amplify the film's sense of creeping dread. Cinematographer Mike Gioulakis captures the beach's sun-soaked haze and the claustrophobic darkness of the Wilsons' home with equal skill. The funhouse hall of mirrors, distorted and fragmented reflections, becomes a visual metaphor for the fracturing of the Wilson family and of a nation divided against itself.

And perhaps Us works because it’s not always clean or easily resolved. Like other great horror films, it lingers, a splinter under the skin. There's a gnawing sense that the disaster they cannot escape isn't just the Tethered, but something deeper, a rot at the core of the American dream. Its final twist—bleak and brilliant—leaves you questioning who the true monsters really are.

Is Us perfect? No. Some of its symbolism feels a touch heavy-handed, and certain plot points require a good dose of willing suspension of disbelief. But like the best horror, it doesn't aim for neat solutions. Instead, it crawls into your headspace and starts unpacking, forcing you to stare into the dark corners of your own reflection. Peele's films are the kinds you revisit, each viewing unearthing fresh terrors. Us is no exception—a twisted, terrifying, and deeply thought-provoking masterpiece.

And that is Us 2019 Reviewed. Another modern horror film from Jordan Peele that is destined to be a classic. 

Stay tuned for more horror film reviews

If You Liked Us 2019 You Might Also Like These Films

  • Get Out (2017): Another masterpiece of social horror by Jordan Peele. This film follows a young Black man who visits his white girlfriend's family and uncovers a disturbing conspiracy about race and identity. Like "Us," it blends psychological chills with sharp commentary on societal issues.

  • The Shining (1980): Stanley Kubrick's classic horror film explores isolation, madness, and the horrors that can linger within a seemingly ordinary family. The claustrophobic setting of the Overlook Hotel and the psychological unraveling of Jack Torrance echo the tense atmosphere and internal struggles explored in "Us."

  • The Babadook (2014): This Australian horror delves into themes of grief, trauma, and the monstrous manifestations of suppressed emotions. Like Adelaide in "Us", the protagonist Amelia struggles with a dark force, blurring the lines between internal and external horrors.

  • Hereditary (2018): This deeply unsettling horror explores family, inherited trauma, and the insidious ways the past can invade the present. Like "Us," it uses a seemingly typical family as a conduit for deeply disturbing supernatural occurrences.

  • Midsommar (2019): This folk-horror film follows a group of friends who travel to a remote Swedish commune for a summer festival, only to be drawn into a disturbing pagan cult. Its themes of community, manipulation, and the darkness lurking beneath a sunny facade share certain parallels with the world of "Us."

Us 2019 Reviewed FAQs

Q: What is the plot of the movie "Us"?

A: "Us" follows the Wilson family, led by Adelaide Wilson (played by Lupita Nyong'o), on a summer vacation to Santa Cruz. Childhood trauma resurfaces for Adelaide at the beach, and that night, the family is confronted by terrifying doppelgängers of themselves known as the Tethered. These doubles, dressed in red jumpsuits, emerge from a network of tunnels beneath the surface and relentlessly pursue the Wilsons in a desperate and violent struggle for survival.

Q: Who are some of the main characters in "Us"?

A: The main characters in "Us" include:

Adelaide Wilson: Played by Lupita Nyong'o, Adelaide is both loving mother and haunted by a childhood encounter with her own doppelgänger.

Gabe Wilson: Adelaide's husband, played by Winston Duke, is a well-meaning but somewhat oblivious father trying to connect with his family.

Zora Wilson: The Wilson's teenage daughter, played by Shahadi Wright Joseph.

Jason Wilson: Played by Evan Alex, the youngest Wilson, he's an imaginative child drawn to magic and masks.

Red: Adelaide's menacing doppelgänger and the leader of the Tethered. Nyong'o portrays her as well, using a chilling, guttural voice.

Q: What are the critics saying about "Us"?

A: "Us" has received widespread critical acclaim, particularly for Lupita Nyong'o's dual performance, Jordan Peele's masterful direction, and the film's thought-provoking exploration of social commentary. Some critics found the complexity of the film's symbolism and its final twist challenging to parse, but the majority found it both terrifying and intellectually rich.

Q: Is "Us" considered a horror movie?

A: Yes, "Us" is definitively considered a horror movie. While it incorporates elements of social commentary and psychological thriller, its core focuses on themes of terror, home invasion violence, and a nightmarish descent into a world of twisted reflections.

Q: What is the significance of the Tethered in "Us"?

A: The Tethered represent a complex and unsettling concept:

  • Shadow Selves: They symbolize the darker aspects of the Wilsons' personalities – the potential for cruelty, rage, and violence that exists within all of us.

  • Societal Inequality: The Tethered also embody the idea of marginalized and forgotten underclasses, living neglected beneath the surface of a society that ignores their plight.

  • Unresolved Trauma: Their existence is directly linked to Adelaide's past trauma, suggesting how suppressed pain and unresolved wounds can manifest in monstrous ways.

Q: How does "Us" incorporate elements of social commentary?

A: "Us" weaves social commentary into its horror:

  • Class and Privilege: It highlights the disparity between the comfortable life of the Wilsons and the harsh existence of the Tethered, prompting reflection on systemic inequality.

  • The Illusion of the American Dream: The seemingly idyllic setting and "perfect" family are shattered, hinting at the fragility and potential darkness that lurks beneath the surface of the American ideal.

  • Hands Across America Symbolism: The film references the failed 1986 event where people attempted to form a human chain across the United States. It contrasts the optimistic intent of the event with the Tethered's own terrifying chain, raising questions about unity and division.

Q: What is the connection between the characters in "Us" and the concept of duality?

A: The film centers on the duality of human nature. The Wilson family members literally face their shadow selves in the horrific form of the Tethered. This forces them (and the viewer) to confront the darkness that exists within everyone, and the thin line between who we are and who we could become under different circumstances.


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