Us (2019 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jordan Peele|
|Written by||Jordan Peele|
|Music by||Michael Abels|
|Edited by||Nicholas Monsour|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
Us is a 2019 American psychological horror film written and directed by Jordan Peele. The film stars Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, and Tim Heidecker, and follows a family who are confronted by a group of doppelgängers.
The project was first announced in February 2018, and much of the cast joined that summer. Peele produced the film alongside Jason Blum and Sean McKittrick (with the trio previously having collaborated on Get Out and BlacKkKlansman), as well as Ian Cooper. Filming took place from July to October 2018 in California.
Us had its world premiere at South by Southwest on March 8, 2019 and was theatrically released in the United States on March 22, 2019, by Universal Pictures. The film received acclaim from critics for its screenplay, direction and acting, with IGN calling it a "marvelous new American horror story."
In 1986, a young Adelaide Thomas goes to the beach while on vacation with her parents in Santa Cruz. She wanders off on her own and enters a funhouse, where she encounters a doppelgänger of herself in the hall of mirrors. Adelaide is later reunited with her frantic parents, although traumatized and unable to talk about her experience.
In the present day, an adult Adelaide heads to her family's beach house with her husband Gabe and their children, Zora and Jason. While the family is at the beach with their friends the Tylers, Adelaide is distracted by a series of strange coincidences. Jason wanders off and finds a stranger dripping with blood. Adelaide notices his absence and panics, eventually cutting the outing short after she finds him.
Agitated by the day's events, Adelaide confesses her childhood trauma to Gabe and says she wants to leave. Before anything can be done, the power abruptly cuts out and they see a group of four people dressed in red jumpsuits standing silently outside the house. Gabe attempts to confront the intruders, only for them to attack and break in. They then reveal that they are doppelgängers of the Wilsons, and call themselves "the Tethered."
The family is separated by their opposites. Adelaide is chained to a table by Red, Zora is pursued out the house by Umbrae, Gabe is dragged outside by Abraham, and Jason is taken into a closet by Pluto. Zora manages to get away from Umbrae when she kills a neighbor. Gabe and Abraham fight on the family's newly bought boat, with Gabe eventually managing to kill his double. Jason notices that Pluto mirrors his actions almost exactly, and traps him in the closet after distracting him with a magic trick. When Red hears Pluto banging on the walls, Adelaide is left alone and manages to break away from the table. The family regroups and escapes on the boat.
Meanwhile, the Tylers are attacked and murdered by their own Tethered. Shortly after, the Wilsons arrive at their beach house looking for help and encounter the Tethered Tylers. A fight ensues, with the Wilsons triumphing. Realizing their situation is not unique, they turn on the news and learn that the Tethered have been killing their opposite selves all over, and are subsequently joining together to hold hands and form a massive human chain. Gabe wants to stay in the Tylers' house and ride out the crisis, but Adelaide insists they stay on the move and head for Mexico.
Umbrae reappears as they drive away in the Tylers' car, but Zora manages to shake her off, killing her. As morning comes, the family arrives at the Santa Cruz boardwalk, where their way is blocked when Pluto sets their own car on fire in the road. Seeing that Pluto still mirrors his every move, Jason walks backward, causing Pluto to do the same and burn to death. Red then reappears and abducts Jason. Adelaide pursues them while Gabe and Zora find an abandoned ambulance. All of them witness the Tethereds' human chain, leading from the sea across the boardwalk and town.
Adelaide returns to the boardwalk funhouse, discovering a secret tunnel in the hall of mirrors. The tunnel leads further and further downward into a massive abandoned underground complex filled with rabbits. Adelaide eventually comes upon Red, who claims that the Tethered were created by the government in an attempt to control the populace, but were then abandoned underground when the experiment proved a failure. For generations, the Tethered were trapped beneath the Earth, doing nothing but mimicking the actions of their counterparts aboveground. Red reveals she is the mastermind behind the Tethereds' attacks on the surface, and that she's believed she was chosen by God to lead them to do this ever since her encounter with Adelaide in 1986. The two fight and Adelaide manages to kill Red. The family reunites and drives away.
As the family drives off in the ambulance, Adelaide has a flashback. The night Red and Adelaide met in the funhouse, Red knocked Adelaide out, chained her to her own bed in the underground complex, swapped their clothing, and took Adelaide's place in the surface world. "Adelaide" was the doppelgänger all along. Having seen his mother act similarly to the Tethered in the throes of fights, Jason appears to realize this. The final scene shows the Tethereds' human chain stretching unbroken over the countryside into the distance.
- Lupita Nyong'o as Adelaide Wilson (née Thomas), matriarch of the Wilson family, Gabe's wife, and Jason and Zora's mother.
- Nyong'o also portrays Red, the leader of the Tethered and Adelaide's doppelgänger.
- Madison Curry portrays the younger versions of Adelaide and Red.
- Winston Duke as Gabriel "Gabe" Wilson, the patriarch of the Wilson family, Adelaide's husband, and Jason and Zora's father.
- Duke also portrays Abraham, Gabe's Tethered doppelgänger.
- Shahadi Wright Joseph as Zora Wilson, Jason's sister and Gabe and Adelaide's teenage daughter.
- Wright Joseph also portrays Umbrae, Zora's Tethered doppelgänger.
- Evan Alex as Jason Wilson, Zora's brother and Gabe and Adelaide's son.
- Alex also portrays Pluto, Jason's Tethered doppelgänger who is disfigured and likes to play with fire.
- Elisabeth Moss as Kitty Tyler, a friend of the Wilson family, Josh's wife, and the mother of Gwen and Maggie.
- Moss also portrays Dahlia, Kitty's Tethered doppelgänger.
- Tim Heidecker as Josh Tyler, a friend of the Wilson family, Kitty's husband, and the father of Gwen and Maggie.
- Heidecker also portrays Tex, Josh's Tethered doppelgänger.
- Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Russell Thomas, Adelaide's father.
- Abdul-Mateen II also portrays Weyland, Russell's Tethered doppelgänger.
- Anna Diop as Rayne Thomas, Adelaide's mother.
- Diop also portrays Eartha, Rayne's Tethered doppelgänger.
- Cali and Noelle Sheldon as Gwen and Maggie Tyler, Kitty and Josh's twin daughters.
- The Sheldons also portray Io and Nix, Gwen and Maggie's Tethered doppelgängers.
After being dismayed by the "genre confusion" of Get Out, Peele opted to make Us a full-on horror film, which was described by Rolling Stone as "spill-your-soda scary" compared to the "existentially terrifying" Get Out. Peele has said that an inspiration for Us was The Twilight Zone episode "Mirror Image" that was centered on a young woman and her evil doppelgänger.
Principal photography began on July 30, 2018 in Santa Cruz, California, including the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Most of the film was shot in Los Angeles, and the main house featured is located in Pasadena. The Stone/Wilson house had remodifications and the team spent six weeks there. Filming wrapped on October 8, 2018.
Michael Abels, who previously scored Peele's Get Out, provided the soundtrack.
The official trailer was released on December 25, 2018. The trailer, which featured a darker version of the song "I Got 5 on It" by Luniz, featured a similar tone, editing, and shots as Peele's Get Out, prompting speculation that the two films were set in the same universe.
A second trailer was released on February 3, 2019 for Super Bowl LIII. The trailer features a narration from Lupita Nyong'o's character Adelaide speaking with her husband Gabriel about the strange coincidences happening since they arrived at their beach house, describing it as a "black cloud" hanging over them. The new theatrical release date for March 22 was announced at the end of the trailer.
The film had its world premiere at the South by Southwest festival on March 8, 2019. The film was originally scheduled for theatrical release in the United States on March 15, 2019, but was pushed back a week to March 22, 2019, following the announcement of its South by Southwest premiere.
In the United States and Canada, initial tracking had Us grossing $35–40 million in its opening weekend. By the week of its release, estimates had risen to $45–50 million, with advance ticket sales on Fandango outpacing A Quiet Place ($50.2 million) and Get Out ($33.7 million). The film made $7.4 million from Thursday night previews, one of the best-ever for a horror film and far higher than the $1.8 million made by Get Out.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 95% based on 296 reviews, with an average rating of 7.99/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "With Jordan Peele's second inventive, ambitious horror film, we have seen how to beat the sophomore jinx, and it is Us." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 81 out of 100, based on 53 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it an overall positive score of 78% and a "definite recommend" of 58%.
Monica Castillo of RogerEbert.com gave the film four out of four, writing that: "Us is another thrilling exploration of the past and oppression this country is still too afraid to bring up. Peele wants us to talk, and he's given audiences the material to think, to feel our way through some of the darker sides of the human condition and the American experience." David Griffin of IGN gave the film 9.0/10, calling it "a very, very strange film. But that's OK because it wouldn't be a Jordan Peele joint if there wasn't a little risk involved. Peele has proven that he's not a one-hit-wonder with this truly terrifying, poignant look at one American family that goes through hell at the hands of maniacal doppelgangers". John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter called Us "a fiercely scary movie whose meaning is up for grabs".
Conversely, Stephanie Zacharek of Time thought Peele had too many ideas and not enough answers compared to Get Out and said, "Peele goes even deeper into the conflicted territory of class and race and privilege; he also ponders the traits that make us most human. But this time, he's got so many ideas he can barely corral them, let alone connect them. He overthinks himself into a corner, and we're stuck there with him."
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