“It’s important to note that Us — unlike Get Out is not about race,” director Jordan Peele explained to Shadow and Act at an Us trailer-viewing presentation in New York City last week. “It is a horror film. I dedicated a lot of myself to creating new horror mythology and new monsters. I think that monsters and stories about monsters are one of our best ways of getting at deeper truths and facing our fears in society. It was very important to me to have a Black family at the center of a horror film.”
The Us trailer opens warmly enough. A Black family — a mother, father, son and daughter travel along a country road with Luniz’s 1995 hip-hop classic “I Got 5 On It” blasting from the radio. The father, Gabe (Winston Duke) sits in the driver’s seat rapping along to the music as the mother, Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o), turns toward the backseat eagerly trying to get her young children (Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex) to engage with the classic song. The kids, of course, are less than impressed.
The Wilson family soon arrives at Adelaide’s old childhood beachside home in Northern California where they are spending the summer. They take in the day lounging at the beach with some old friends —the Tyler family (Elisabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker). Their blissful day quickly turns sinister when Adelaide —who is haunted by a past trauma — notices that her son Jason (Alex) is no longer on the beach. Adelaide spirals into a panic running along the sand shouting for her son before finally finding Jason who —seems OK, though perhaps a little thrown off by an eerie figure he sees on the beach. Done with the beach for the day, the Wilsons head back to their summer home for the evening. As night swoops in, the family’s lives descends into complete chaos. First, a figure clutching a large pair of shears appears in their driveway along with four silent figures clutching hands. From Peele and the cast’s exclusive interview with Entertainment Weekly we’ve learned that these monsters are called “the Tethered.”
Never one to back down from a fight Gabe (Duke), dressed in a Howard University sweatshirt and clutching a baseball bat, runs out of the house to confront the figures who are terrifying his family. He screams, “If you want to get crazy, we can get crazy!” As he approaches them, he realizes there is something oddly familiar about these monsters. What Gabe sees stuns him —the Tethered are horrific versions of himself and his family. Though the figures are shrouded in darkness, Adelaide soon realizes, “They think like us, look like us, and know who we are.” Terrorized and panicked, the Wilsons and their friends begin the bloody and horrific fight for their lives. All the while chopped and screwed versions of “I Got 5 On It” ring out eerily in the background.
So what is Us really about? At its core, Peele explained, “It is about something that I feel has become an undeniable truth. That is the simple fact that we are our own worst enemies.” Instead of examining the monsters that invade out nightmares, Peele is redefining the horror mythology by turning it on its head and forcing us to look inward — at the fears that have haunted us throughout our lifetimes.
Us debuts in theaters on March 15, 2019.
Watch the trailer below:
Aramide A. Tinubu is a film critic and entertainment writer. As a journalist, her work has been published in EBONY, JET, ESSENCE, Bustle, The Daily Mail, IndieWire and Blavity. She wrote her master’s thesis on Black Girlhood and Parental Loss in Contemporary Black American Cinema. She’s a cinephile, bookworm, blogger and NYU + Columbia University alum. You can find her reviews on Rotten Tomatoes or A Word With Aramide or tweet her @wordwitharamide