Jordan Peele's 'Us' Unpacked

As someone who has been a major fan of Jordan Peele since he and Keegan Key were making viral Youtube videos, I was psyched about seeing Us.

I organized my girl squad and we took to the streets of Evanston at approximately 8:45pm. As we braved the cold Chicago breeze, we discussed and tried to unpack the horrifying uncertainty of the trailer. Bunnies? Scissors? Red jumpsuits? "What the hell was going on," I thought?

Finally we made it to the theater. I literally had to fight my way through the mass of other college students who all had the same idea just to get my movie ticket. I winded my way back to theater five, up the stairs, and made it to my seat. I was on edge, already feeling the spooky vibes. The lights went down, and it was time to embark on this illusive journey I was eagerly awaiting.

The film started with stunning scenery of the Santa Cruz boardwalk, where I was a few weeks prior to seeing the movie. The camera focused in on a black family celebrating their young daughter Adelaide’s birthday. They played carnival games and indulged on sweet treats, like the symbolic candy apple. Adelaide eventually wanders off as if she is being called toward the beach. Thunder and lightning crack in the background as Adelaide enters an abandoned carnival attraction. She wanders through the caverns and halls of mirrors until she sees what she thinks is her reflection. Sike! This is actually a mirror version of herself in flesh and blood. The scene then cuts to Adelaide frantically running out of the attraction and reuniting with her family. Now this attraction may seem like an artsy and irrelevant way to start off the film, but don’t forget about it, this place is very important.The movie then picks up several years later where Adelaide is now grown up and married with kids. Her family is planning a trip to Santa Cruz after not being there for years. Adelaide is noticeably uncomfortable about returning to this place, but she will not confide in her family about why. Patterns and symbols keep aligning that make the audience feel like something extremely menacing is looming. This foreshadowing is very accurate, and soon enough all hell breaks loose.

The family is tucked away in the comfort of their home when out of nowhere the power goes out. Adelaide instantly grabs her family and prepares for what’s to come. They look into their dimly lit front yard and see a family of five standing at the edge of their driveway. Only Adelaide knows who these people are, it is them, and by them I mean the family members' doppelgangers. Now, while the family tries to fight off their frighteningly aggressive doubles who are armed with scissors, the outside world faces even graver consequences. Everyone else in the world has a doppelganger too, and these people are out for revenge. They hit the streets, scissors in hand to destroy their counterparts, with a plan to take over the world.

As the film continues to progress, we find out that these doubles were actually created by the government to keep the real-world people in check. They are called the “shadow people” because they were forced to live in underground abandoned tunnels. And crazily enough, these shadow people emerge into the real world through the creepy carnival attraction from the beginning of the film (I told you it would come back)! In short, Us is basically an apocalyptic thriller, where a government’s “creation” goes wrong.Now the saving grace of this movie was the MAJOR plot twist at the end. It pulled the entire film together and makes the creepy parts worth watching. I won’t spoil it, but it is definitely a big moment (I have never felt more blindsided watching a film). Us really followed the rule of "show don’t tell." As each scene unfolded, I became aware of new details just like the characters. This was an extremely compelling tool to use because it made me even more scared and excited to see what came next. While Us is still very unrealistic, it is worth watching for the cinematic genius that is the plot twist. That, and the dark humor and the stunning cinematography makes for a film that will probably have a strong cult following for years to come.

Picture Credits: YouTube