‘Us’: A Metaphorical Puzzle in a Good Way?

Jordan Peele seduces with the bloody mayhem.

Agents of Change


Photo credit: Shutterstock, modified

By Jon Ochiai

In Writer and Director Jordan Peele’s “Us”, it all begins in 1986: Little African American girl Adelaide, played by Madison Curry, encounters her doppelganger in the carnival tent on the Santa Cruz beach; her eyes widen in terror.

Now 2019, on the family vacation car ride, Mom Adelaide Wilson, played by loving and beautiful Lupita Nyong’o, jokes with her children, daughter Zora, played by Shahadi Wright Joseph, and Halloween mask-wearing son Jason, played by Evan Alex. Adelaide and her husband Gabe, played by solid Winston Duke, drive to meet up with friends Kitty, (Elizabeth Moss), and Josh, (Tim Heidecker), and their twin daughters for their Santa Cruz summer holiday. Yeah, that’s Jordan’s discreetly frightful foreshadowing.

Funny. Santa Cruz might be an homage to Joel Schumacher’s 1987 “The Lost Boys”. Although, “Us” is not about the indigenous vampire. Jordan’s narrative is somewhat more sinister: Our “tethered” doppelgangers (personal doubles) possibly live in the millions of subterranean tunnels in the U.S.

Or so we are made to believe according to Jordan’s movie prefaced research.

Scary movies are really not my deal. Yet, my movie critic buddy Michael told me that “Us” is worth seeing. That was good enough for me.

The first 2 Acts of “Us” are amazing narrative and visually foreboding atmosphere from a master storyteller. Lupita brilliantly disguises Adelaide’s unresolved childhood fear, safeguarding her children with all her being. Winston Gabe is comically at a loss in discerning his wife’s seeming turmoil. Also Adelaide and Gabe’s dynamic with Kitty and Josh occurs as the social status comparison game. Oh, well.

Then one night, the Wilsons receive uninvited guests at their rented beach home. They’re also the family of four. Jason says, “It’s us.” They’re the evil versions of Adelaide, Gabe, Zora and Jason.

Or are they really ‘the evil ones’? Terror and havoc ensue on screen.

Act 3 of “Us” is totally WTF? No worries. No spoilers here. At a certain point, I didn’t know what was going on. Jordan seduces with the bloody mayhem. Yet…



Agents of Change

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