Us Director Jordan Peele Explains What His Horror Movie Is Really About

Upon a quick glance, the home release of Jordan Peele’s latest horror movie Us has the traditional set of special features like deleted scenes and numerous featurettes–with no audio commentary in sight, sadly. However, what sets the home release of Us apart from others is that director Jordan Peele is a well of information and has no problem going in-depth about every aspect of the movie. The featurette titled “The Duality of Us” goes into great detail about the true meaning of the movie, which is incredibly layered.

Originally, Peele explained that he has a fear of doppelgangers.”Throughout mythology, doppelgangers often represent bad omens, or a foreshadowing of one’s death,” the director explained. “So I just wanted to sort of pinpoint and work off of that extremely primal fear.”

However, from there, the real meaning of Us has everything to do with being fortunate enough to be a privileged American citizen. “One of the central themes in Us is that we can do a good job, collectively, of ignoring the ramifications of privilege,” Peele continued. “I think it’s the idea that what we feel like we deserve comes, you know, at the expense of someone’s else’s freedom or joy. And 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 never forget that and we have to fight for the less fortunate.”

This idea of two sides to the same coin, privilege, and duality, centers around young Adelaide Wilson’s “Hands Across America” t-shirt. The 1986 event was to raise awareness and money to end hunger in Africa by joining hands to make a continuous chain across the United States.

“When I thought to put the Hands Across America in this film as an example of this American duality, that here you have this event,” explained Peele. “On the one hand, it’s a beautiful thing. Right? We’re all going to get together. We’re all going to hold hands. And somehow, that’s going to cure hunger. The illusion that we’re contributing to something that actually is making change, as opposed to something that kind of makes us feel better and absolves us of our responsibility to enact actual change.”

Then, there is the actual meaning of the film’s title, which is also very layered and becomes more complicated as the movie pushes forward. “There’s this expanding idea of what the word ‘us’ means,” detailed Peele. “‘Us’ can mean many different things. The only thing consistent about the idea of Us is when you have an ‘us,’ you have a ‘them.’ Every one of us and our doppelganger share a soul. We have a fated connection that isn’t always exact. I described it as being sort of poetic-connection. Fate and magic of the soul doesn’t work in a sort of scientifically dependable way, which is one of the reasons that underpasses the concept didn’t work for the creators.”

Additionally, within this special feature, alone, Peele also delves into the meaning of the rabbits and horror as a genre as well. You can see all of this when the home release (4K, Blu-ray, and DVD) hits stores on June 18. Us is now available digitally, but many of the home release special features are not included with the digital release.

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Author: Mat Elfring