Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Movie: Us (2019)

There is so much hype surrounding Us after Jordan Peele's first movie Get Out that I had to see it. When I originally reviewed Get Out, the story line had a lot to unpack. I only scraped the surface so I wouldn't give anything away. In Us there's a ton of hints along the way leading you to the finale. Again this isn't "horror" in the traditional sense, but more the horror that comes along with human nature. I'm going to try to break down the clues a little better in this blog. I'm sure there's more, but this was my takeaway.


***SPOILER ALERT***

In the very beginning of the movie there's an enigmatic reference to all the abandoned underground subways, tunnels, and mines. Clue 1.

We then see the protagonist Adelaide as a little girl watching a commercial for Hands Across America in 1986. This is a real thing that happened for those that don't know. It was supposed to show unity and awareness of the hunger crisis and homelessness taking over America. What it did was brought together people, including celebrities, that donated to the cause. They ended up contributing less than half of what was collected to those living in poverty. BUT my eye went straight to the VHS tapes on the left of the TV. There's three and the one that stood out was C.H.U.D., because you can actually read the title. It's an 80s cult classic AND C.H.U.D. stands for Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers. Clue 2.

Much of the story is told in flashbacks. Young Adelaide and her parents are at Santa Cruz boardwalk by the beach and they mention a movie that is being filmed there. (It's The Lost Boys , YES! Wonderful shoutout.) After her irresponsible dad wins her a Thriller T shirt at a game, she wanders off into a hall of mirrors. The power goes out and you see her inside alone being confronted with a girl that looks just like her, that's NOT a reflection.


There's religious overtones referencing Jeremiah 11:11 or "Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not harken to them."

Flash forward to her being a mom in the Wilson family with two kids and a husband. Her husband suggests going to the Santa Cruz beach where they can meet their friends ~ The Tylers ~ for a vacation. She doesn't want to go because of what happened there. This part is filmed great because we go inside her head where she stops listening. She's disconnected from her family. They do end up going and on the way her daughter mentions the government controlling people. No one responds to the comment, they ignore it. (It's like living with my family.) Clue 3.

The Wilsons meet their well-off friends on the beach. Kitty, the mom had plastic surgery, the dad brags about his boat. The have a giant beach house.

Adelaide is incredibly observant taking in all the people on the beach surrounding her, again we get to see what she sees. She's alone in a beach full of people. There's coincidences like a frisbee landing right on the spot of a polka dot blanket, it's red, white, and blue with stars representing America?, her friends twin daughters saying the same thing at the same time, 11:11 is the score on TV and on the clock, odd nuances that are building the story. At one point her friend, Kitty asks if she's ok, and she responds with "Sometimes I find it hard to talk". Clue 4.

Once back at their modest beach house The Wilsons get ready for bed and the home invasion begins. There's a doppelganger family that breaks in, all wearing one tan finger less glove, a red jumpsuit, and each carrying sharp gold scissors. (The one glove is another reference to Michael Jackson, possibly the red outfit from the Thriller video too.) The matriarch of the family "Red" speaks to them in a scary distorted voice, explaining that the Tethered live underground as part of a failed government experiment. She's the only one that speaks. Clue 5. The Tethered look like them and reenact the same things they do above, but unlike the top dwellers their only food is raw rabbit, and they are given sharp things to play with instead of toys. (I'm guessing the scissors.) She even states that her son was "born into fire" and she had to cut him out of her belly herself. This establishes the underground family as abandoned and feral. They came above to be "untethered".


The Wilsons fight off the Tethered family, not without a bunch of symbolism to being connected like scissors, i.e. two pieces of the same part, handcuffs, her son's werewolf mask that he wears almost the whole movie gives a sense of duality, even the life preserver attached to the boat.


They escape to The Tylers house and find out they are not the only family being targeted by the Tethered. The Tylers have been killed while Good Vibrations from The Beach Boys plays in the background. Lots of irony in this movie. It reminded me of how Singing in the Rain is used in A Clockwork Orange. When you see the dead twins sprawled on the floor, it's the exact shot from The Shining with the Grady twins on the floor and blood splatter on the walls. It just proves, more money might buy you more choice in boats and houses, but it can't save you and Peele has been influenced by Stanley Kubrick.


(Scene from The Shining)

They kill the Tylers doubles. Adelaide takes on one of the girls and smashes her, not before her son sees the savage rage in her eyes. The Wilsons are trying to figure out what is going on, flick on the TV and find out everyone is getting killed by their look alike counterpart. It's going on all over the country. Once the above dwellers are dead the Tethered join hands much like the Hands Across America commercial. Clue 6. In their red jumpsuits it's a strong visual. Now we know the Tethered has the upper hand because they had a plan all along. It's a massacre along the sunny beach and boardwalk. Another sharp disturbing contrast.

Red takes Adelaide's son and Adelaide goes after her, down to the beach and in the mirrored house, down the rabbit hole, ala Alice in Wonderland. The underground is cavernous just like the mirror house, but somehow she knows exactly where she's going. Clue 7.


Red and Adelaide fight to the death. Red explains that they learned how to "copy the body not the souls of people" and that "our time is now". She has created a mob mentality among the Tethered that's very scary. I'm not going to tell you what happens, but all four members of the Wilson family survive and the bunnies are let loose. (Yay! Poor bunnies.)

I really enjoyed this movie. The Wilson's are likable and realistic. There's social commentary about poverty and how what you are born into does effect your life to an extent. The top dwellers take things for granted compared to the Tethered, and the Tylers have a lot compared to the Wilsons. Everyone stop comparing yourself, we truly are our own worst enemy!

It makes you think. I do have a couple of questions regarding the movie. Are the Tethered breaking free from the underground and controlling the coincidences above? Does Adelaide's son know what happened all those years ago? Who fed the bunnies underground and cleaned up their poop?

Now my real question is Get Out in the same world as Us? Was the father from Get Out part of the government that was experimenting on people? Curious it all takes place underground. Thank you Jordan Peele for original ideas and making me ask questions! I give this movie five giant golden sharp scissors out of five.

Here's the trailer...


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