Us (2019 film)
Us is a 2019 American horror film written and directed by Jordan Peele. The film stars Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex, Elisabeth Moss, and Tim Heidecker, and follows a family who are confronted by a group of doppelgängers.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jordan Peele|
|Written by||Jordan Peele|
|Music by||Michael Abels|
|Edited by||Nicholas Monsour|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$87 million|
The project was first announced in February 2018, and much of the cast joined that summer. Peele produced the film alongside Jason Blum and Sean McKittrick (with the trio previously having collaborated on Get Out and BlacKkKlansman), as well as Ian Cooper. Filming took place from July to October 2018 in California.
Us had its world premiere at South by Southwest on March 8, 2019 and was theatrically released in the United States on March 22, 2019, by Universal Pictures. The film has grossed $86 million worldwide and received praise from critics for Peele's screenplay and direction, as well as the score and acting.
In 1986, young Adelaide Thomas vacations with her parents in Santa Cruz. At the beach, Adelaide wanders off and enters a funhouse, where she encounters a doppelgänger of herself in the funhouse's hall of mirrors. Adelaide is later reunited with her parents, although traumatized and unable to talk about her experience.
In the present day, a now adult Adelaide heads to her family's beach house in Santa Cruz with her husband Gabe Wilson and their children, Zora and Jason. Adelaide, remembering the traumatic incident from her youth, is apprehensive about the trip; Gabe, eager to impress their friends Josh and Kitty Tyler, purchases a boat and brushes off Adelaide's concerns. At the beach, Jason wanders off and sees a man in a red jumpsuit standing alone on the beach with bloodied hands and his arms outstretched. He does not tell his family about the man but later draws a picture of him.
Later that night, the four intruders appear in the driveway of the beach house. Gabe attempts to intimidate the family but they attack him and break into the home. The Wilsons realize that the intruders are doppelgängers of themselves, led by Adelaide's double, Red. Red, the only doppelgänger capable of speech, tells the Wilsons the story of a girl who lives a happy life while her shadow suffers. The family is then separated by their opposites: Adelaide is handcuffed to a table by Red, Zora is pursued out of the house by Umbrae, Gabe is dragged outside by Abraham, and Jason is forced to "play" with Pluto in a closet.
While chasing Zora, Umbrae is interrupted by an investigating neighbor, whom she stabs to death with a golden pair of scissors; this distraction allows Zora to escape. Gabe is able to kill Abraham with his boat's malfunctioning motor, while Jason discovers that Pluto mirrors his actions almost exactly. Jason is able to distract Pluto with a magic trick and escapes, locking Pluto in a closet. Red is distracted by Pluto's cries, allowing Adelaide time to break free. The family regroups and escapes on Gabe's boat.
Meanwhile, the Tylers are murdered by their doubles shortly before the Wilsons arrive. The Wilsons kill the Tyler's doubles and turn on the local news to see that jumpsuit-wearing doppelgängers, who call themselves "The Tethered", have been committing murders throughout the area. The doppelgängers subsequently join hands together to form a massive human chain, which the newscasters speculate is a form of protest.
The Wilsons drive away in the Tylers' car until they are attacked by Umbrae but Zora, who is driving, manages to kill her. As day breaks, the Wilsons arrive at the Santa Cruz boardwalk, where they find their own abandoned car on fire. Pluto attempts to kill the Wilsons by lighting a gasoline trail to the Tylers' car, but Jason, remembering that Pluto mirrors his every move, walks backward so that Pluto steps into the burning car and is killed. Red then reappears and abducts Jason.
While Zora and Gabe recuperate in an abandoned ambulance, Adelaide returns to the boardwalk funhouse and discovers a secret tunnel in the hall of mirrors. This leads to an underground facility overrun by rabbits, where Adelaide finds Red. Red claims that The Tethered were created by the U.S. government in an attempt to control the public, but the experiment failed and The Tethered were abandoned underground. For generations, The Tethered were trapped beneath the surface, doing nothing but mimicking the actions of their counterparts above-ground until Red organized them to escape. The two fight and Adelaide manages to kill Red. She finds Jason hidden in a nearby locker and promises him that things will return to normal.
The family reunites and drives away in the ambulance. As they leave town, Adelaide remembers the night she met Red in the funhouse — but now she remembers that Red knocked the original Adelaide out and trapped her in the underground complex, taking her place in the surface world. As she remembers this, Jason watches her apprehensively. Across the United States, The Tethered join hands.
- Lupita Nyong'o as Adelaide Wilson (née Thomas), the matriarch of the Wilson family, Gabe's wife, and Jason and Zora's mother.
- Nyong'o also portrays Red, the leader of the Tethered and Adelaide's doppelgänger.
- Madison Curry and Ashley McKoy portray the young and adolescent versions of Adelaide and Red.
- Winston Duke as Gabriel "Gabe" Wilson, the patriarch of the Wilson family, Adelaide's husband, and Jason and Zora's father.
- Duke also portrays Abraham, Gabe's Tethered doppelgänger.
- Shahadi Wright Joseph as Zora Wilson, Jason's sister, and Gabe and Adelaide's teenage daughter.
- Wright Joseph also portrays Umbrae, Zora's Tethered doppelgänger.
- Evan Alex as Jason Wilson, Zora's brother, and Gabe and Adelaide's son.
- Alex also portrays Pluto, Jason's Tethered doppelgänger who is disfigured and likes to play with fire.
- Elisabeth Moss as Kitty Tyler, a friend of the Wilson family, Josh's wife, and the mother of Becca and Lindsey.
- Moss also portrays Dahlia, Kitty's Tethered doppelgänger.
- Tim Heidecker as Josh Tyler, a friend of the Wilson family, Kitty's husband, and the father of Becca and Lindsey.
- Heidecker also portrays Tex, Josh's Tethered doppelgänger.
- Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Russel Thomas, Adelaide's father.
- Abdul-Mateen II also portrays Weyland, Russel's Tethered doppelgänger.
- Anna Diop as Rayne Thomas, Adelaide's mother.
- Diop also portrays Eartha, Rayne's Tethered doppelgänger.
- Cali and Noelle Sheldon as Becca and Lindsey Tyler, Kitty and Josh's twin daughters.
- The Sheldons also portray Io and Nix, Becca and Lindsey's Tethered doppelgängers.
After being dismayed by the "genre confusion" of Get Out, Peele opted to make Us a full-on horror film, which was described by Rolling Stone as "spill-your-soda scary" compared to the "existentially terrifying" Get Out. Peele has said that an inspiration for Us was The Twilight Zone episode "Mirror Image" that was centered on a young woman and her evil doppelgänger.
Principal photography began on July 30, 2018 in Santa Cruz, California, including the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Most of the film was shot in Los Angeles, and the main house featured is located in Pasadena. The Stone/Wilson house had remodifications and the team spent six weeks there. Filming wrapped on October 8, 2018.
The film contains a reference to Jeremiah 11:11, which 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.'" Critic Rosie Fletcher commented on the context, with Jeremiah warning Jerusalem was facing destruction due to false idols, and opined the film's characters also "worshipped the wrong things", such as Ophelia, the computer program.
The official trailer was released on December 25, 2018. The trailer, which featured a darker version of the song "I Got 5 on It" by Luniz, featured a similar tone, editing, and shots as Peele's Get Out, prompting speculation that the two films were set in the same universe.
A second trailer was released on February 3, 2019 for Super Bowl LIII. The trailer features a narration from Lupita Nyong'o's character Adelaide speaking with her husband Gabriel about the strange coincidences happening since they arrived at their beach house, describing it as a "black cloud" hanging over them. The new theatrical release date for March 22 was announced at the end of the trailer. Deadline Hollywood estimated the studio spent around $77 million on promotions and advertisements for the film.
The film had its world premiere at the South by Southwest festival on March 8, 2019. The film was originally scheduled for theatrical release in the United States on March 15, 2019, but was pushed back a week to March 22, 2019, following the announcement of its South by Southwest premiere.
As of March 24, 2019[update], Us has grossed $70.3 million in the United States and Canada, and $16.7 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $87 million, against a production budget of $20 million.
In the United States and Canada, initial tracking had Us grossing $35–40 million in its opening weekend. By the week of its release, estimates had risen to $45–50 million, with advance ticket sales on Fandango outpacing A Quiet Place ($50.2 million) and Get Out ($33.7 million). The film made $29.1 million on its first day, including $7.4 million from Thursday night previews, one of the best-ever for a horror film and far higher than the $1.8 million made by Get Out, increasing estimates to $68 million. It went on to debut to $70.3 million, the best opening for a live-action original film since Avatar ($77 million in 2009), as well as the third-best total for a horror film after It ($123.4 million in 2017) and Halloween ($77 million in 2018).
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 94% based on 309 reviews, with an average rating of 7.95/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "With Jordan Peele's second inventive, ambitious horror film, we have seen how to beat the sophomore jinx, and it is Us." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 81 out of 100, based on 53 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it an overall positive score of 78% and a "definite recommend" of 58%.
Monica Castillo of RogerEbert.com gave the film four out of four, writing that: "Us is another thrilling exploration of the past and oppression this country is still too afraid to bring up. Peele wants us to talk, and he's given audiences the material to think, to feel our way through some of the darker sides of the human condition and the American experience." David Griffin of IGN gave the film 9.0/10, calling it "a very, very strange film. But that's OK because it wouldn't be a Jordan Peele joint if there wasn't a little risk involved. Peele has proven that he's not a one-hit-wonder with this truly terrifying, poignant look at one American family that goes through hell at the hands of maniacal doppelgangers". John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter called Us "a fiercely scary movie whose meaning is up for grabs". Richard Brody of The New Yorker called the film a “colossal achievement”, writing that, “Us is a horror film—though saying so is like offering a reminder that The Godfather is a gangster film or that 2001: A Space Odyssey is science fiction. Genre is irrelevant to the merits of a film, whether its conventions are followed or defied; what matters is that Peele cites the tropes and precedents of horror in order to deeply root his film in the terrain of pop culture—and then to pull up those roots.”
Conversely, Stephanie Zacharek of Time thought Peele had too many ideas and not enough answers compared to Get Out and said, "Peele goes even deeper into the conflicted territory of class and race and privilege; he also ponders the traits that make us most human. But this time, he's got so many ideas he can barely corral them, let alone connect them. He overthinks himself into a corner, and we're stuck there with him."
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