Jordan Peele is a filmmaker of importance.
His last film, “Get Out,” earned him the Best Original Screenplay Oscar in 2018.
Now he returns with another film, “Us,” that is just as vital as the story he told in “Get Out.”
It is the story of the Wilson family, but the focus is upon Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o), the mother.
The film opens in 1986, and we see Adelaide as a child on the boardwalk at a beach with her parents.
The parents are preoccupied, and Adelaide wanders off to a house of mirrors. There she encounters an image of herself that moves independently of herself. The image scares her so badly that she develops post traumatic stress disorder from it.
One huge part of this section of the film is a homeless man she passes that is holding up a piece of cardboard that says Jeremiah 11:11.
That verse says, “Therefore, thus says the Lord, assuredly I am going to bring disaster upon them that they cannot escape; though they cry out to me, I will not listen to them.”
When we join the story in present day, Adelaide is married to Gabe (Winston Duke) and has a daughter (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and a son (Evan Alex).
The family is on their way to their vacation home near the beach where she had the experience as a child.
They go to the beach and we meet their friends, Kitty and Josh (Elizabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker). Kitty and Josh are very typical Americans.
They are consumers that always want and get the latest and best of everything. Gabe is jealous of Josh.
As the story moves on, we see the family returning to the house for the night. Just before they go to bed, the lights go out. Standing at the end of their driveway are four people, hand in hand.
Gabe goes out to try and scare them off, but these four invade the house.
Who are these people? They are doppelgangers of each one of them – not exact likenesses, but there is no mistaking that these invaders are them.
When asked who they are, the son replies, “They are us.”
Once inside, we find that the only one who can speak is the mother figure known as Red.
She tells the Wilsons who they are, and what follows (because this is a horror movie) is that the doppelgangers attempt to kill their opposite member.
We also learn that there are copies of every living person. These copies have been living in tunnels and now have risen up from underground to take what they feel is their rightful place above ground.
Peele is well known for his concerns about race in America. He not only directed “Get Out,” but also was a producer on Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman.”
The Wilsons are African-Americans, so one could get the idea that he is speaking about race in this film. But I do not think so.
In biblical numerology, the number 11 represents disorder, chaos and judgment. The number 11 appears over and over in the film. The verse referenced earlier appears twice.
Add to this, Jung’s idea that all of us have a shadow self that most of us have no connection to or that we do not deal well with.
Jung believed that shadow self was the manifestation of ourselves that wanted to see chaos and disorder come forth as an expression of that self that lives within us all.
This shadow self needs to be unified with the person we are in order for the larger culture and society to be one of order and not chaos.
As I watched “Us,” my thought was that Peele is making a commentary on our society where it seems acceptable to declare our basest of feelings, hatred toward the immigrant and those that do not look like us.
With that continued acceptance, Peele is offering us a warning that we need to come to grips with this shadow self or we will destroy ourselves in the end.
I must stress that this is a horror movie. It contains acts of violence that will be unsettling for many.
That said, this is the most interesting film I have seen this year.
MPAA rating: R for violence/terror and language.
Writer and director: Jordan Peele
Cast: Lupita Nyong’o (Adelaide Wilson/Red), Winston Duke (Gabe Wilson/Abraham), Elisabeth Moss (Kitty Tyler/Dahlia), Tim Heidecker (Josh Tyler/Tex), Shahadi Wright Joseph (Zora Wilson/Umbrae), Evan Alex (Jason Wilson/Pluto).
The film’s website is here.
Michael Parnell is pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is married and has two boys. His love is for movies, and he can be found in a theater most Fridays.