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Us is a 2019 American horror film written and directed by Jordan Peele, starring Lupita
Nyong'o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex, Elisabeth Moss, and Tim Heidecker.
The film follows Adelaide Wilson (Nyong’o) and her family, who are attacked by a group of
menacing doppelgängers.
The project was announced in February 2018, and much of the cast joined in the following
months. 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, mostly in Los Angeles and Pasadena and also
in Santa Cruz. Us was Peele's second horror film after Get Out.
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. It was a commercial success,
grossing $255.1 million worldwide against a budget of $20 million, and received praise for Peele's
screenplay and direction, as well as the musical score and Nyong'o's performance.
4Themes and interpretations
o 7.1Box office
o 7.2Critical response
9Home media
11See also
13External links
In 1986, young Adelaide goes on vacation with her parents to Santa Cruz. At the beach, she
wanders off and enters a funhouse, where she encounters a doppelgänger of herself in the hall of
In present day, the adult Adelaide is haunted by memories of the encounter. She goes with her
family - husband Gabe Wilson and their children, Zora and Jason - to their house in Santa Cruz.
She is apprehensive about the trip, but Gabe, eager to impress their rich friends Josh and Kitty
Tyler, brushes off her misgivings. At the beach, Jason sees a man standing with his arms
outstretched, blood dripping from one hand.
That night, a family of four dressed in red appears in the Wilsons' driveway. They break into the
house and attack them. The intruders are the Wilsons' doppelgängers, led by Adelaide's double,
Red. The only one who can talk, Red explains that the doppelgängers are called the Tethered,
that they share a soul with their counterparts, and that they have come to "untether" themselves.
She tells them the story of a girl who is loved and happy while her "shadow" remains in the dark,
The family is separated by their doppelgängers: Red makes Adelaide handcuff herself to a table;
Zora is pursued by her double, Umbrae; Gabe is pursued by Abraham; and Jason is sent to
"play" with Pluto. Zora evades Umbrae and Gabe kills Abraham, while Jason discovers that Pluto
mirrors his actions and locks him in the closet. Red is drawn away by Pluto's cries, allowing
Adelaide to break free. The family regroups and escapes on their boat.
Meanwhile, the Tyler family is murdered by their Tethered. The Wilsons arrive and are forced to
kill the Tylers' doubles. They turn on the news to see that the Tethered have been murdering their
counterparts across the nation. When Zora drives the family away in the Tylers' car, Umbrae
attacks, but Umbrae is killed when thrown off the car.
At the Santa Cruz boardwalk, the Wilsons find the road blocked by their own car, which has been
set on fire. Pluto has set a trap for the Wilsons, standing over a gasoline trail with a match. Jason,
remembering that Pluto imitates him, makes Pluto walk into the fire. Red abducts Jason. While
Gabe recuperates from his wounds with Zora, Adelaide returns to the funhouse and finds a secret
tunnel in the hall of mirrors. It leads to an underground facility overrun by rabbits, where she finds
Red explains that the Tethered are clones, created by the government to control their
counterparts on the surface. When the experiment failed, the Tethered were abandoned
underground for generations, mindlessly copying the actions of their counterparts until Red
organized them to escape and take revenge. Red and Adelaide fight, with Red countering all of
Adelaide's attacks. Adelaide finally kills Red and rescues Jason from a locker.
Adelaide drives the family away in the ambulance and recalls the night she met Red in the hall of
mirrors. The doppelgänger choked Adelaide unconscious, chained her in the underground, and
secretly took her place in the world above; "Adelaide" was the clone. Across the hills, the
doppelgangers join hands to form a massive human chain.
Main character
"Tethered" character
Lupita Nyong'o
Adelaide Wilson (née Thomas)
Madison Curry
Young Adelaide
Young Red
Ashley McKoy
Teenage Adelaide
Teenage Red
Winston Duke
Gabriel "Gabe" Wilson
Shahadi Wright Joseph Zora Wilson
Evan Alex
Jason Wilson
Elisabeth Moss
Kitty Tyler
Tim Heidecker
Josh Tyler
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II
Russel Thomas
Anna Diop
Rayne Thomas
Cali Sheldon
Becca Tyler
Noelle Sheldon
Lindsey Tyler
Napiera Groves
Dr. Foster
Duke Nicholson
Kara Hayward
Nathan Harrington
Dustin Ybarra
Alan Frazier
Lon Gowan
Jordan Peele
Dying Rabbit/Fun House Narrator[4]
Shooting took place at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
After being dismayed with the "genre confusion" over his previous film, Get Out,[5] Peele opted to
make his next film Us a "full-on" horror film,[6] which was described by Rolling Stone as "spill-your-
soda scary" compared to the "existentially terrifying" Get Out.[5] 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.[5]
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 house had modifications and the team spent six weeks
there.[7] Filming wrapped on October 8, 2018.[8]
The visual effects were provided by Industrial Light & Magic and supervised by Grady Cofer.[9]
Michael Abels, who had previously scored Peele's Get Out, returned to do the same for Us.[10]
Themes and interpretations[edit]
Critic Jim Vejvoda related the Tethered to "urban legends" and "xenophobic paranoia about
the Other", also writing they resembled the Morlocks in H. G. Wells's 1895 novel, The Time
Machine.[11] Journalist Noel Ransome viewed the film as being about "the effects of classism and
marginalization", writing "the Tethered are effigies of this same situational classism. They're
trapped—mentally and physically—and ignored".[12] Joel Meares of Rotten Tomatoes also noted
that the Tethered, referencing the "we're Americans" line, are representatives of the duality of
American society, how some citizens can afford to live on top of the class system, while others
are stuck in poverty. He also noted the title Us could mean "U.S.", or United States.[13]
Manohla Dargis of The New York Times notes that the Wilsons are "introduced with an aerial
sweep of greenery" similar to the opening of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining and sees that movie
as the principal influence on Us. Describing Peele as a "true cinephile", she also identifies
allusions to other films, including Jaws, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and The Goonies, as well as
one scene suggesting an influence by the Austrian film director Michael Haneke's 1997 horror
film Funny Games and subsequent U.S. remake.[14]
The Tethered's red jump suits and single glove were an allusion to Michael Jackson along with
the "Thriller" shirt seen on young Adelaide, and Peele has stated that Jackson was "the patron
saint of duality".[13][15] Peele referenced many other instances of 1980s culture, including allusions
to The Lost Boys and Hands Across America, stating "Everything in this movie was deliberate,
that is one thing I can guarantee you. Unless you didn't like something and that was a complete
The film contains numerous references to Jeremiah 11:11, which reads: "Therefore thus saith the
Lord: 'I will bring on them a disaster they cannot escape. Although they cry out to me, I will not
listen to them'" (NIV). Critic Rosie Fletcher commented on the context,
with Jeremiah warning Jerusalem was facing destruction due to false idols, and expressed the
opinion that the film's characters also "worshiped the wrong things", such as Ophelia, the virtual
Peele later explained in the film's digital release special features that a central theme of the film
is American privilege:[18]
One of the central themes in Us is that we can do a good job collectively of ignoring the
ramifications of privilege. I think it's the idea that what we feel like we deserve comes, you know,
at the expense of someone else's freedom or joy. You know, the biggest disservice we can do as
a faction with a collective privilege like the United States is to presume that we deserve it, and
that it isn't luck that has us born where we're born. For us to have our privilege, someone suffers.
That's where the Tethered connection, I think, resonates the most, is that those who suffer and
those who prosper are two sides of the same coin. You can never forget that. We need to fight for
the less fortunate.
— Jordan Peele[18]
The official trailer was released on December 25, 2018.[19] The trailer, which was set to 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.[20]
A second trailer was released on February 3, 2019, for Super Bowl LIII. The trailer features a
narration by Lupita Nyong'o's character Adelaide, speaking with her husband Gabriel about the
strange coincidences happening since they arrived at their beach house, and describing it as a
"black cloud" hanging over them. The new theatrical release date, March 22, was announced at
the end of the trailer.[21] Deadline Hollywood estimated the studio spent around $77 million on
promotion and advertisements for the film.[22]
Us had its world premiere at the South by Southwest festival on March 8, 2019.[23] It was also
screened on March 6, 2019, before its official release, at Howard University.[24] 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, following the announcement of its festival premiere.[25]
Box office[edit]
Us grossed $175 million in the United States and Canada, and $80.2 million in other territories,
for a worldwide total of $255.1 million, against a production budget of $20 million.[3]
In the United States and Canada, initial tracking had Us grossing $35–40 million in its opening
weekend.[26] 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).[27] 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 Thursday grossed by Get
Out, increasing weekend estimates for Us to $68 million.[28] It went on to debut to $71.1 million,
the second best opening for a live-action original film after 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) and the best ever opening for an original horror film not based on a known property.[22][29] In
its second weekend the film made $33.6 million, dropping 52.7% (slightly above-average for a
horror film but much larger than the 15% seen by Get Out), finishing second, behind
newcomer Dumbo.[30]
Critical response[edit]
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 93% based on 494
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."[31] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 81 out of 100, based on
55 critics, indicating "universal acclaim."[32] 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 80% and a 60% "definite recommend."[22]
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."[33] 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 onehit wonder with this truly terrifying, poignant look at one American family that goes through hell at
the hands of maniacal doppelgangers".[34] John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter called Us "a
fiercely scary movie whose meaning is up for grabs".[1]
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
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."[36]