New Jordan Peele film Us shows we’re our own worst enemies

2019-03-29 00:00

Rofhiwa Maneta was among the brave moviegoers who flocked to the big screens to watch Jordan Peele’s new fascinating, multi-layered abd terrifying feature film Us. 

Director: Jordan Peele
Starring: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke

Jordan Peele’s sophomore film Us starts in 1986. Adelaide Wilson (played by Madison Curry) is at a theme park with her parents and wanders off into a fun house. It is actually a dimly lit, creepy house of mirrors, where she meets her doppelgänger and is traumatised and unable to speak for much of her childhood.

Cut to the present day and Adelaide (now played by Lupita Nyong’o) is off to Santa Cruz, the site of her childhood trauma, for a holiday with her husband and two kids. At night, four doppelgängers invade their house and set off a tale of suspense.

The film’s antagonists (the doppelgängers) are called The Tethered and were created by the government during a failed cloning experiment. They are determined to kill and replace their real-life counterparts, and the Wilsons are forced to fight off the zombie versions of themselves to survive.

But Us is way more complicated than a “zombie-vs-family” story. The film’s tagline, “We are our own worst enemy”, comes to life in a shocking climax at the end and, as with Peele’s Get Out, things are never as they seem.

In fact, it’s difficult to talk about Us without mentioning its associated politics and award-winning predecessor, Get Out. The Tethered live in basements and come out to seek revenge because they’re tired of living in the “shadows”. When the doppelgängers are asked who they are, Red – Adelaide’s doppelgänger – responds: “We are America.”

Where Get Out satirised race, Us is about class. The Tethered represent society’s underclass, the downtrodden and forgotten, and the movie puts a mirror up to the middle class’ collective identity. In Peele’s cinematic universe, marginalised communities are able to mount a fightback and topple the ruling class.

Or can they? Sometimes the real monster is no higher than your head and no lower than your feet.

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September 15 2019