Jordan Peele Strikes Again With ‘Us’

Peele shocks audiences with a strong opening week and a haunting movie experience

Jordan Peele has gone from dipping his toes to diving right into the deep end of the horror genre. His latest work, Us, follows a black family of four on a weekend trip to the beach in Southern California as chaos ensues across the United States. The movie made a meteor landing at the box office last weekend, scoring an impressive $70 million and a spot in the top three biggest horror movie openings of all time.

The premise of the movie sounds like a fever dream without being able to watch it unfold in theatres, but here it is in short: a government program gone wrong leads to the hostile takeover of red-jumpsuited doppelgangers who come from abandoned underground tunnels and are inspired by the 1986 charity program Hands Across America. Sounds crazy, right? But once you watch it, the concept becomes increasingly more unsettling, leaving you to wonder: “During what mundane task will my evil doppelganger come and take me?”

As it turns out, though, tagging a specific character with the “bad guy” title in this film isn’t as easy as it initially seems. The cerebral thriller leaves the audience with many questions, the most prominent of which are, “What’s going to happen to the rest of Adelaide’s family? Will Jason confront his mother, now knowing she’s the ‘evil’ copy?” These questions, as well as many other questions viewers might have, could all be answered in the future.

“There’s always the possibility (though slim) that Peele has another twist up his sleeve — maybe this could be the first entry in a larger series…This could be Peele’s attempt at a larger universe.”

Josh Spiegel

Writing for The Hollywood Reporter, Josh Spiegel explains that a franchise based on Us would be a welcome return for Nyong’o as Red/Adelaide, as she delivered nearly two full hours of an incredible onscreen performance.

Lupita Nyong’o as Red and Adelaide in Us

To read Spiegel’s opinion and more about Us, check out Josh Spiegel’s “The Questions Lingering After ‘Us’,” The Hollywood Reporter, (Mar 23, 2019).

A Good Omen for Documentaries and Horror

A new reason to become a fan of the genres if you aren’t already

Get Out (2017), dir. Jordan Peele

When you hear the word “documentary”, your first thoughts aren’t anywhere near the feeling of an adrenaline rush, the suspense that brings you to the edge of your seat, or even remotely black representation. Director Xavier Burgin will hopefully change that with Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror. This documentary, newly released on Shudder, is based on the non-fiction book Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from the 1980s to the Present.

Writing for the Hollywood Reporter, Richard Newby gives a basic idea of what to expect from the documentary:

“The documentary… brings together some of the most prominent and educated black voices in horror history to discuss how the horror genre’s representation of black people has changed over the years.”

Horror Noire covers the history of black representation in the horror genre all the way up to Jordan Peele’s monumental directorial debut, Get Out (2017); but it only covers history. Newby does the rest of the heavy lifting by addressing the future for black horror in the rest of the article, beginning with a focus on Jordan Peele’s upcoming agenda. His new movie, Us, is set for release in March of this year; Peele and his production company will also provide us with the much-anticipated Twilight Zone reboot and an HBO adaptation of Lovecraft Country, a horror novel about the Jim Crow South.

Newby then moves on from Peele’s seemingly endless contribution to advancements in black horror:

…audiences can also look forward to the black-led Relive, Sweetheart, and films like Captive State, Doctor Sleep, and the recently released Escape Room that feature black people in prominent roles.

Thanks to every example of upcoming works that Newby provides, the future for black representation in the horror genre doesn’t look as bleak as the past. Every new instance of proper representation will hold the door open for upcoming black leaders in the horror genre.

For more details about Horror Noire, check out Richard Newby’s “How ‘Horror Noire’ Primes Viewers for a Year of Black Horror,” The Hollywood Reporter, (Feb. 7, 2019).

-Ian