By Henry Wheeler-Klainberg
Note: SPOILERS AHEAD!
From a comedy genius to a horror extraordinaire, Jordan Peele has risen to a prestigious state in Hollywood. With the recent release of his latest horror film Us, we see once again the talent and precision that Peele brings to his movies. With his ability to create complex and amazing ideas all from his own imagination, Jordan Peele is a bloated bottle just beginning to burst.
Jordan Peele is known for the underlying messages he subtly expresses through his movies. Peele uses his stories to reflect upon the society we live in, and the values that we hold true. While his movies Get Out and Us both represent very abstract ideas, they are quite different.
In Get Out we see a rather obvious relation to race in society and history, and how it plays into people’s lives. The overall plot of Get Out is the chilling story of a senile white family that captures black people and uses them as replacement bodies for themselves or their associates. In the movie, older white people must find younger bodies because they do not want to die. So, they take over the captured black people’s bodies and replace them with their own minds.
However, in the process, the captured people’s true personas must live in “the sunken place,” a mysterious realm where they must float and watch as the white person takes control. This cryptic story serves the purpose of mirroring the way in which slavery occurred. The rich white people got rich because their black slaves worked, just as these white people use these black people to be immortal. In both scenarios, black people are viewed as objects and . In slavery, the enslaved people must watch as their whole life is controlled by their owners, just as the captured people have absolutely no control over their own fate in “the sunken place.”
In Peele’s newest movie Us, the underlying message and story being told is not like Get Out at all. While Get Out focused on a lesson about our society, Us focuses on a more universal lesson about the our internal selves as people. Us focuses on the physiological parallels between good and evil within each one of us. In the movie a display of the horror subgenre of doppelgangers, a topic Jordan Peele himself is very fascinated by. The movie centers around two families, a middle-class family on a vacation to their beach house in Santa Cruz, and a creepy mysterious identical family out for blood. These families are total opposites, but what binds them is their identical physical features, a very creepy phenomenon. The conflict represented in this bizarre and confusing plot is one that each one of battles with ourselves: the good and the bad, the beautiful and ugly. The movie’s is “Watch Yourself,” a well done play on words that hints at the internal conflict this film portrays. To watch yourself literally means to watch yourself, because as this movie attempts to show that you are your own worst enemy. Peele conveys that the worst fears that we must face and conquer are indeed within one’s own self. Peele also draws a parallel to the emotions that each person holds inside of us. The sides of good and bad that are with us all. Our inner saboteurs are often shut out and rejected, but what Peele attempts to show us is these sides are not as different as we may think.
Throughout his work, Jordan Peele has been fascinated with the symbols and foreshadowing that he can fit into his movies. He writes his movies in such a way that their captivating and thrilling aspects never flea from sight. After rewatching the movie several times; the viewer is always at the edge of their seat. Peele himself has said in countless interviews how much he loves to put forth “easter eggs” and these subtle messages throughout his movies.
In Us, Peele has said that he puts in so many hidden messages that some can only be noticed on the 4th watching of the movie. Many of these hidden symbols have been found and broken down, symbols that greatly help with the understanding of the movie and what it stands for.
In the movie, scissors play the role of being the murder weapon for the monsters. The physicality of scissors are meant to represent the duality of people and their mind. A scissor comes from one blade pushed together, and as you go up the scissor two parts of the blades unfold. Just as one entity shares two opposites of their mind, a negative and positive side. Peele also leaves messages throughout Get Out which still make viewers think to this day. Towards the end of the movies, as the character is captured in the basement of the home, he is strapped to a chair and is hypnotized every time he hears a spoon hit a teacup. To protect himself from this hypnosis the character takes the cotton out of the chair and put it in his ears to block out the sound. He is eventually able to break free from the family. This act further illustrates the parallel to slavery in history in that the enslaved people had to pick cotton from their plantation until they were freed, just like in the movie. Of course, Peele has many more hidden things within both of his movies that are just as eye-opening, and are very much worth investigating.
The transformation from star comedian on his show Key and Peele, to a horror mastermind has put Peele in a very important spot. He has said that he plans to make 4 horror movies in total, and with his new role as the host of the recreation of the Twilight Zone; Peele doesn’t seem to be slowing his creative mind anytime soon.