By Erin Caine
Just two years after Jordan Peele rattled Hollywood with his Oscar-winning satirical horror film, “Get Out,” he’s back with a vengeance.
His new film, “Us,” is a psychological horror starring Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Evan Alex, and Shahadi Wright-Joseph. They play a family who find themselves confronted by their own terrifying and twisted doppelgängers.
The trailer for the film first dropped back in December, along with some cryptic taglines on the poster, such as “watch yourself” and “we are our own worst enemy.”
There are already plenty of interpretations of what the film seems to be critiquing, as well as an abundance of people analyzing every detail from the trailer. If this new film is anything like “Get Out,” though, it’s bound to have some devastating reveals and twists.
Many were already surprised by the tone of the film’s trailer, noting that it seems like “Us” is going to be more conventionally terrifying than Peele’s previous movie.
The visuals of the trailer, alone, combined with the hair-raising musical score, are enough to give viewers nightmares. It starts out innocently enough, with half a minute of the Wilson family’s blissful summer vacation travels.
But then there’s the shift: The music changes, and the family’s young son, Jason, wanders away from the group. He comes upon a man on the beach with bloody hands.
Nyong’o’s character, before an easy-going and attentive mother, seems to change, as well, becoming paranoid and uneasy.
What follows is a whirlwind of disturbing (though gorgeously shot) visuals, copious bloodshed, intense confrontations, and enigmatic teasers—such as the hallway filled with rabbits, a motif reminiscent of “Alice in Wonderland.”
Fans and critics speculate that the trailer reveals so much about the film’s plot because there are many more surprises in store.
When Piya Sinha-Roy of Entertainment Weekly asked Peele to explain the recurring imagery of rabbits and scissors in the trailer, he said, “I’m a filmmaker and film-lover that loves iconic imagery. […] I think rabbits and scissors, they’re both scary things to me, and both inane things, so I love subverting and bringing out the scariness in things you wouldn’t necessarily associate with [horror].”
Though many speculated that “Us” would follow along the same vein of racial commentary as “Get Out,” Peele clarified that “this movie is not about race.” He still, however, felt it was necessary and important for his sophomore film to have a black cast.
He noted that simply having an African-American family at the center of a horror film was “exploring cinematic uncharted territory.”
“‘Get Out’ was one missing piece of the racial conversation and [‘Us’] is another one,” Peele said, “and we’re seeing a lot of great strides being taken by great artists like Ava [DuVernay] and Ryan [Coogler].”
Peele can certainly be counted among those making great strides in American filmmaking.