Twisted and clever

Peele delivers true horror in ‘Us’

Imagine looking across the subway through a bustle of people only to catch your own eyes, staring at you, dressed all in red. This image serves as inspiration for Jordan Peele’s new horror movie, “Us.”

Known for his  TV comedy series, “Key and Peele,” with co-writer Keegan-Michael Key, and his previous horror hit, “Get Out,” Peele is now becoming the king of horror movies.

The movie begins with the Wilson family vacationing at a beach where mother Adelaide Wilson had previously visited as a child. Through flashbacks between her former and present self, the audience learns Adelaide was traumatized in the hall of mirrors at the boardwalk when she discovers herself, also known as her shadow, lurking in the reflections. Because of this trauma, she is resistant when her family insists on visiting that same amusement park.

Later that evening, the family is thrown into a stressful situation when they see the shadows of a family standing outside, all holding hands in a line. The son, Jason Wilson, notices first and alerts his family of the lurkers. Taking on his fatherly figure, Gabe Wilson threatens the shadows with a baseball bat, but they never move. The shadows only leap into action once the Wilsons tell them the police are on their way.

The shadows start to separate each member, especially the older daughter, Zora Wilson, by forcing them into situations they don’t want to be in. Suddenly, all four members of the Wilson family realize they are being attacked by themselves, or rather other people who look exactly like them, yet have personalities of their own.

Peele creates a paradox by pairing peaceful scenes with cacophonic music, easily adding a horrifying tone to the film. There are many moments in the film where intense string music is playing in the background, which makes watching it in the theater extremely enveloping and suffocating at times. This feeling only adds to the intensity and makes every scene that much more effective.

Events then take a drastic turn as each member of the Wilson family is secluded by the twisted games of their shadows, and they all must work together using their wits to find each other. Through each fight scene, it becomes clear that the Wilsons are a tenacious, resourceful family that will stop at nothing to protect each other; which is definitely not the case for some of the other families included in the film.

After fighting off some of their shadows, also known as their “tethers,” the Wilsons discover that every person on the planet has their own doppelganger who is attempting to murder them.

The Wilsons’ friends, the Tylers, were vacationing with them when the shadows appeared and suffered the same attacks as everyone else. In one battle scene between the Tylers and their shadows, the audience can see how much worse they are than the Wilsons at teaming together and defending themselves. Peele highlights the Wilsons’ tenacity and close bond through multiple fight scenes while accentuating Adelaide’s bravery when it comes to being a mother and saving her children.

Peele includes symbols such as rabbits, which can be seen in one of the opening credits of the movie, though their meaning isn’t completely clear. Perhaps it was the way the rabbits were caged in the beginning to create the metaphor that the shadows were not free and were bound to those above them against their will.

Another recurring symbol is a biblical proverb, Jeremiah 11:11, that reads: “Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘I will bring on them a disaster they cannot escape. Although they cry out to me, I will not listen to them.’” This alludes to the many moments in the film in which the characters mention how much humans take their environment for granted.

Towards the end of the film, after a series of  high-energy action scenes, the Wilsons find themselves out of danger and hopeful for the future. Peele leaves many aspects unexplained and up to the audience’s interpretation, and “Us” evokes fear and questions for audiences. With, fight scenes, jump scares and metaphors, Peele has written a plot twist that leaves jaws on the floor. The unexpected occurs, and only two members of the Wilson family realize it, leaving audiences shocked.