Us is only Jordan Peele’s second feature film as a director, but he has already developed the traits of an auteur. The Easter eggs Peele included in the Get Out were one of the many reasons the film became a global success that generated conversations. So, it’s not surprising that since the poster and trailer for Us were released horror movie fans were already attempting to decipher hidden clues and metaphors in Peele’s work. He decided to give them a little head start by sharing the meaning of Us, the movie's title, ahead of the films release on March 22. Us might seem like a simple name, but of course, since it was created by Peele, it has multiple layers to it. Here's what we know about the title's true meaning.
Us tells the story of a family, headed by Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke, that must fight for their lives when a group of doppelgangers appear at their home. Given the multiple identical characters the show up in the film, the tagline for the movie is “We are our own worst enemy.” With that tagline, it would be easy to assume that the title Us just refers to the individual struggles we put ourselves through. But, with Peele, nothing is that easy. During an interview with Yahoo at the film’s Los Angeles press day, Peele was asked if the word “Us” could also double as the United States.
“There’s a double meaning to everything,” Peele confirmed. “Yeah, I mean this movie is about duality and there’s no choice that i’m not trying to layer. The state of this country inspired me. We’re a country that is afraid of the outsider. Whether it’s within our borders or outside of our borders. I think when we fail to point our finger inward, we’re capable of really messing up in big ways.” Peele said that while his main goal is to entertain people, he also prioritizes creating content that ignites conversations that “fascinate” him.
He added that he wants to give audiences just enough to let their imaginations run wild without giving them concrete answers. “I think one of the things in a horror movie that can challenge the scariness is when the answers are easy and it is tied up in a nice, neat bow.”
During his press circuit for Us, Peele continued to speak on the cultural and national significance of the themes addressed in the psychological horror film. At the SXSW world premiere of Us, Peele talked to to The Root about Us' connection to current issues in America and touched more on the need for self reflection. Peele said, “[When] I decided to write this movie, I was stricken with the fact that we are in a time where we fear the other, whether it is the mysterious invader that we think is going to come and kill us or take our jobs or the faction that we don’t live near that voted a different way than us. We’re all we’re all pointing the finger and I want to suggest that [when] making a monster, we really need to look at our face. Maybe the evil is us.”
As for why Peele chose to mainly express these problems through doppelgangers, that reasoning was actually quite simple. Coming face to face with your evil twin is creepy. Yes, even Peele, a horror genius, has fears. He explained how these fears inspired the plot of Us on Late Night with Seth Meyers. “I’ve been terrified of the idea of doppelgangers since I was a kid,” Peele revealed. “I always had this vision of seeing myself across the subway platform and just kind of thought what if you saw yourself and if that’s not creepy enough what if the other you sort of smiled at you.” Then, Peele’s mind ran wild with ideas of an entire family of look-alikes.
The mysteriousness of Us means moviegoers will be in for a shocking experience. Plus, since Peele created an entire moved based on something that terrified him, we can only imagine how many viewers will be on the edge of their seats watching this film. Hopefully with the tip about the dual meaning of the title, they will be able to recognize out the hidden messages in Us. There will certainly be plenty of theories as Us is bound to be a huge topic of conversation as audiences start to see it en masse, sparking the conversations Peele hoped for.