Jordan Peele broke barriers with his politically and socially charged narrative of a black man dating a white woman in his breakout thriller Get Out. The social thriller not only received immense critical acclaim including an Academy Award and several nominations but also exposed an important and lasting image of a reality in which African-Americans can never breathe easy.
Peele’s recently released film trailer revealed that the protagonist of his upcoming horror film Us, will also be black — a long overdue and often unimplemented practice in the horror genre. Although, reports say that the Get Out writer and director’s March release will not center around a racially heavy satire of the same nature of Peele’s last film.
In Peele’s 2017 thriller Get Out, Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) is wary of visiting his white girlfriend’s parents, asking Rose (Allison Williams), “Do they know I’m black?” Rose asserts that her parents are not racist or prejudiced in the slightest, arguing that they would’ve voted for Obama a third time if warranted.
Unable to slip past the meet-the-parents-milestone of dating, the couple travels to the Armitage’s house — running into a classic racially prejudiced cop on the way. Rose defends Chris to the officer and momentarily establishes a progressed view of racial oppression and trust between both her and audience members, as well as between her and Chris. Of course, this trust is later doused in betrayal that almost gets Chris killed by the deranged cult practices of Rose’s parents (a surgeon played by Bradley Whitford and a hypnotherapist played by Catherine Keener).
In Get Out, audience members were jolted through jump-scares, unnerving black representation of characters that are seemingly too obedient in their lobotomized-like daze, and a twisted view of black-white relations that made for a searing political statement. Accompanied by a suspenseful score and an unsettling uttering of the film title’s warning, Peele created a unique thriller lined with classic conventions of the horror genre setting the stage for his follow up film Us to be even more terrifying.
Peele told Variety Magazine that Get Out was a social thriller but Us is an obvious horror that moves far beyond jump scares. As expected, the upcoming film brings a highly anticipated cast with Black Panther duo Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke as a mother and father of two. The film is set in present-day as Adelaide Wilson (Nyong’o) and her family travel to her childhood beach house for a weekend get-away, but finds nothing but familial complications that are escalated to violent and terrifying horror.
After a stressful day at the beach, the family returns home to find four eerie hooded figures standing in their driveway. The shadowed people do not immediately respond to Gabe’s (Duke) threats when he steps outside to confront them. The horror of the film, of course, hinted at earlier on with Blumhouse-isms such as a teasing and thrilling score, truly begins when the Wilsons discover the red-hooded figures are actually “doppelgangers” (aka The Tethered) of themselves as they descend on the house.
Peele released the Us trailer on Christmas day and took viewers through a twisted acceleration of scenes where even the children’s seemingly supernatural look-alikes are violently crazed. The Wilsons’ young daughter, Zora played by Shahadi Wright Joseph, is shown gasping desperately as her demonic parallel holds an unyielding grip on her throat. Other fearsome scenes include one of the masked monsters hanging outside of a window — an image sure to make audience members peak behind curtains after dark with pounding hearts. But lasting images that scare are the difference between successful and unsuccessful representations of horror conventions. With the new trailer for Us, Peele’s award-winning filmmaking skills seemed to have progressed even deeper into the dark and spine-chilling genre.
With his already successful implementation of racially charged psychological thrills in Get Out, a follow-up film from Peele promises deep, underlying themes. One in which Peele has already revealed to be about humanity, saying “we are our own worst enemy.”
Some of Peele’s fans were disappointed to hear that Us would not be about race as Get Out created such a strong narrative for underrepresented and misunderstood elements of modern-day black oppression. However, Peele told Entertainment Weekly that it was important to him to have a black family lead the film, saying there wasn’t a survival-horror film that comes to mind with a black family at its center. So, Peele knew that just by putting an African-American family in the lead role he would be “… exploring cinematic uncharted territory.” As expected, Peele will continue to break barriers in his upcoming film.
With already chilling and intriguingly bizarre images from the Us trailer like the rabbit room, the Wilson doppelgängers and haunting shears mixed in accordance with what are sure to be standout performances from Nyong’o and Duke, Peele’s new movie is sure to be a must-see of the spring season. Who knows it may even give the director’s debut film’s impressive $255.5 million worldwide gross a run for the money. Maybe even nods from the academy? Either way, audience members and critics alike are eager to continue to journey into Peele’s more sinister side of the supernatural and duality of man.
Us will be released in theatres in March 2019.