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Us - movie review


Well I wasn't expecting that! Jordan Peele's "Us" is a superb, violent and frightening film that is highly intelligent, in the tradition of "They Live" but with better acting.


I am still trying to figure out what the rabbits represent. I suspect they reflect the lives of the "Tethered", the doppelgangers who live underground, in that they are imprisoned in a small space initially, and by the end their cages are much larger. They are predominantly white, perhaps representing the ethnic makeup of America. Red, Adelaide's doppelganger, says the Tethered survive by eating the rabbits raw. This makes sense due to rabbits prolific breeding, but what did the rabbits eat?


Clever manipulation of timelines mean that giving away any spoilers would colour a first viewing of the film. So, if you haven't watched it yet, avoid spoilers including those that follow and go now. Run to the nearest cinema.


<Warning contains spoilers>


The story, and the film, begins in 1986 when our hero Adelaide goes on holiday with her parents. She wanders off and enters a hall of mirrors. Something dramatic happens and Adelaide comes face to face with her doppelganger. Young Adelaide is unable to speak after the event. It takes years of expressing herself in other ways (such as dancing) before she verbally communicates again. Although we don't see much of her parents we get a good understanding of the dysfunctional family dynamic.


In the present day Adelaide is pressured into revisiting the beach of her past trauma. Although the catastrophic events seem to have started just before they arrive, this may or may not be the catalyst for apocalyptic events. We learn that Adelaide is not the only person with a doppelganger. They all do. These others have lived underground, but now they are organised and want their places in the sun.


The Tethered, as I understand it, were created by the American government, to see if one soul could be shared between two bodies. To some extent at least the Tethered and controlled by those above. When Adelaide marries Gabe, Red marries his doppelganger. When Adelaide has a cesarean section, Red is forced to cut her baby out herself. Jason (Adelaide's son) makes his doppelganger walk backwards into a fire.



Screenshot from Jordan Peele's "Us".

We learn eventually why Adelaide's tethered other is the only doppelganger with the ability to speak. The rest rely on rudimentary grunts to communicate. In this way the film could be a look at class in American society and represent the fear of the wealthy and middle classes that the undeserving, less civilised (after all language is a signifier of how civilised and therefore who worthy a person is. Why else would people mock dialects?) poor will rise up and kill the rich. Certainly the family at the centre of the story and their close friends are affluent.



Red faces off against Adelaide in Jordan Peele's "Us".


The images in the opening scenes seem random at first but are woven into the story as it progresses. Red's insistence that Adelaide be handcuffed makes perfect sense by the end. What remains less obvious is how the Tethered got hold of so many red boiler suits and sharpened scissors.


In summary "Us" is a great horror film and I loved it.



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