After giving us the brilliant psychological thriller that was Get Out, Jordan Peele has blessed our souls with yet another terrifying and thought-provoking film: Us. Rather than exploring the horrifying theme of two people fighting to control a single body, this time, Jordan has given us a glimpse of what it would be like to have two bodies share the same soul. The film introduces us to an adorable family named the Wilsons, who try to enjoy a fun family vacation at their beach house in Santa Cruz. But when their creepy doppelgängers show up for a surprise visit, everything goes downhill.
To say that this movie is loaded with symbolism would feel like the understatement of the year. Nearly every detail in the film - down to the characters' clothing and accessories - is intentional. So yes, even though its been over two weeks since the movie got released, our minds are still churning with what feels like a million possible interpretations. But judging by all the reactions, it looks like we're not the only ones who are knee-deep in theories. See which Easter eggs you might've overlooked in the new horror film.
The scripture, Jeremiah 11:11 packs a lot of meaning and even foreshadows a few things, but those numbers, "1111," held a ton of significance even before they appeared 846 more times. When little Adelaide wandered off and got to the beach, she noticed a guy near the exit sign, holding a cardboard that included those same numbers. Those who are familiar with numerology probably already know that the number "11" is believed to be a gateway to the divine. And in the film, 11 11 seems to take the form of two pillars, creating a portal or passageway between two different worlds. It can't be a coincidence that the guy with the sign was standing right between the underground entrance and the carnival...
It's easier to connect to dots if you're actually familiar with the music video for "Thriller." Perhaps the most memorable (and terrifying) moment is when Michael Jackson turns around and smiles at the camera, revealing that he's actually one of the zombies pretending to be human. And in Us, we experience the same twist when the truth about Adelaide (or technically, the fake Adelaide) finally comes to light. In a sense, young Adelaide was wearing her life story and she didn't even realize it.
Remember that scene where Jason and Pluto "played" together in that little storage closet? Jason cleverly used a toy ambulance to keep its door cracked so that at the first opportunity, he could easily run out. And towards the end of the film, when the Wilsons were trying to run, what they used to escape was an ambulance. (Another little detail worth noting is that on top of the ambulance, the numbers "1111" reappeared).
It's not stated in the single verse that's given, but if you read it in context, the Bible mentions how the people worshiped false gods. Similarly, the Tylers seemed to value their material wealth and riches above all else, like false idols. So when they all abruptly died in their luxurious home, the ominous words of Jeremiah technically came to pass. He prophesied: "I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape."
It took us a minute to put two and two together, but that body that was being taken away in an ambulance as the Wilsons drove by was actually the real version of that mysterious guy. The Tethered version killed him, which is why when Jason saw him standing there like a creepy scarecrow, there was blood dripping from his fingers. We're assuming that he was the second to make it above and take the original guy's place. Unless there were others that we didn't know about...
If you look carefully at that painting on the wall, you'll notice that it has three shadow figures and one solid one. The shadows are crowded behind the real person, who seems to be sitting. And that person is wearing red and white. Meanwhile, we're literally seeing a family of four that consists of three true Tethers and one above-ground human became one of the Tethered. Perhaps that red and white outfit is meant to reflect Red's true nature. And like in the painting, Red is the only one that's sitting.
Adelaide's white outfit became more and more red as the movie progressed, and it actually reminds us of that painting that features a lady in red and white! But by the end, we see that "Adelaide" is practically covered in blood stains. It seems like the perfect metaphor for the unraveling of her fake persona, because even despite her continued efforts to hide who she really is, her true nature becomes more obvious. The more clues we see regarding her real identity (like the way she killed one of the Tyler sisters), the more blood she gets on her white clothing.
It's safe to say that this is open to multiple interpretations. However, it's hard to ignore the similarities between the Tethers and slaves. The government treated the Tethers like property by leaving them underground and ignoring them. They saw people who were JUST like them enjoying their freedom and succeeding above ground. Plus, they were denied an education and important resources, which meant that there was little they could do to escape their bondage. However, it wasn't until Red came along that they realized their potential and worked together to get above-ground.
Another solid point worth noting is how Adelaide was able to adjust to the real world. It goes to show that underprivileged groups are just as capable of succeeding if given the resources and opportunities.
"The Raven" is a popular poem by Edgar Allan Poe. It tells about a man who sits reading by a fire in his home. But suddenly, he hears a tap on his door. As it repeats, it gets louder, causing him to realize that the noise is actually coming from his window. When he gets up to investigate, a raven flies into his chamber, uninvited. The creature then proceeds to make itself comfortable by perching on a bust of Pallas. ...Any of this sound familiar?
We could never forget that terrifying scene where Walter bolts toward Chris at full speed and then makes a sharp right turn when he reaches him. In Us, Red's movements are quite similar. She walks very quickly and makes a sharp right when she goes looking for the boys at the beach house. And when she reunites with Adelaide underground, her movements are just as sharp.
Did you catch how Adelaide zoned out when she looked at her little stuffed rabbit from childhood? It most likely triggered a bunch of memories of her experience with rabbits while she was underground as a child. But this actually has an interesting connection to the story in Alice in Wonderland. At the beginning, Alice spots a White Rabbit and follows him into a large rabbit hole, which eventually leads to a completely different world. Towards the end of Us, when Adelaide goes through the hall of mirrors and down the giant escalator, the very first thing that she sees is... a white rabbit.
Jordan didn't just film the family's walking shadows on the beach because it looked cool (as we first assumed). It was also meant to hint at the fact that something about Adelaide was... "off" (well, aside from her inability to snap on-beat). If you looked closely, you may have noticed that Adelaide was walking apart from the rest of the family, who stuck together as a group. If you want to take it even further - this could be pointing to the fact that the original Adelaide, aka Red, is different from the family's shadow selves.
When Kitty tried to engage her in conversation at the beach, Adelaide gave quick, short responses and showed very little interest in wanting to talk. She then went on to explain that she simply wasn't good at engaging in small talk. At first glance, it simply felt like a relatable moment for introverts. But really, it was another clue that Adelaide is one of the Tethered because they're unable to talk.
In the underground, when Red danced around Adelaide and kept slipping further away, she wasn't just trying to escape. She was actually being strategic about her movements and leading Adelaide back to the place where they separated for the first time, after their initial meeting (in fact, it's why she hid Jason down there). Red's original plan was to kill Adelaide by the bunk beds because apparently, there's significance to the location of the "untethering." She most likely wouldn't have been able to completely cut ties if she immediately killed Adelaide at their beach home.
Regarding the purpose of this film, Jordan once said: "We’re in a time where we fear the other, whether it’s the mysterious invader that we think is going to come and kill us and take our jobs, or the faction we don’t live near, who voted a different way than us. We’re all about pointing the finger. And I wanted to suggest that maybe the monster we really need to look at has our face. Maybe the evil, it’s us." He essentially described the state of America today. And so it's fitting that the Tethered, or the "evil" that gets unleashed from underground, refer to themselves as "Americans."
It's what Adelaide was whistling when she walked into the hall of mirrors, but the words to that song serves as a clever retelling of what would become her story. The true Adelaide, who came to be known as "Red," tried to escape the underground tunnel for years, much like the spider that kept trying to crawl out the water spout. But after carefully crafting her plan of escape, she (and her fellow Tethers) seized the opportunity to finally crawl out and live in the sun.
Even without the second poster to compare, it's fairly easy to notice that the scissor handles look like two heads that are back to back. If you ask us, it's a pretty clever take on the film's constant theme of dualism. Jordan said: "I wanted to forge this new mythology that explored our duality and the duality of the characters." To add yet another layer of symbolism, Jordan focused on scissors because they're made up of two pieces that are tethered together, much like the characters and their tethered versions in the film.