Okay, so if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re reading this, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re one of the millions of people who saw Us this weekend. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the new horror film from the Oscar-winning Jordan Peele, who won audience and critical acclaim with the masterful Get Out. It stars Black PantherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢sÃ‚Â Lupita NyongÃ¢â‚¬â„¢o and Winston Duke as a married couple who come face to face with their evil doppelgÃƒÂ¤ngers while on holiday in their remote lakeside summer house. Their bloodthirsty lookalikes appear on their doorstep one night, hellbent on terrorising the couple and their two children, and things rapidly go from bad to Ã¢â‚¬Å“what the f*** just happened?!Ã¢â‚¬Â
If you havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t seen Us yet, then what are you doing here?
Go away, and come back when youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve seen it. We may have problems with it, but we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to ruin it for you.
Us spoilers coming upÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
If you have seen it, and youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re a bit baffled by what you saw, we totally understand, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s because the plot-threads are a bit untethered, so the story doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t fully make sense. But weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re going to explain what itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s supposed to mean, then go into why itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s all a bit confusing, before bringing it all together for what itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s probably saying about society.
THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE BEFORE WE HIT THE SPOILERS
At the end of the film itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s revealed that, when Lupita NyongÃ¢â‚¬â„¢oÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Adelaide Wilson wandered into the hall of mirrors during the opening flashback sequence, she coincidentally met her shadow, Red, who took the opportunity to kidnap her and switch places with her. When you see the little girl in the psychiatristÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s office, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Red.
Now, thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s several reasons this is a bit confusing. The first is that, if the tethered are unsupervised, and able to wander up to the hall of mirrors, then why didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t the real Adelaide just escape the moment she had her first opportunity? You know, as opposed to doing ballet.
Potentially, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s because when the characters switched, the power dynamic also shifted, which means that the surface version was now in control, and so Adelaide couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t escape.
But thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not made clear in the movie, and also doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t make sense as an explanation Ã¢â‚¬â€œ because if thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the new power dynamic, then Adelaide wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be able to lead a revolution to the surface.
If, somehow, close proximity between the surface people and their shadows leads to more autonomy for the shadows, why would surface Lupita ever agree to a holiday to the one place sheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d be avoiding for her entire life? This is definitely one of the most baffling elements of the whole thing.
But the major element that really doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t make any sense is the sequence where shadow Lupita gives the big exposition dump in her croaky voice. She wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t a baby when they switched, she was a communicative child, fully aware that sheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d been switched.
So, rather than telling that whole Ã¢â‚¬Ëœonce upon a timeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ story that totally suggested sheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d been born into the underground lab, why wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t she go into that house and say Ã¢â‚¬ËœYou stole my life!Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ Why wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t she immediately bring this up, rather than saving it for another big exposition dump later in the movie?
ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s one explanation that could tie everything together, but you need to do a bit of hard work to apply it to the movie. The film could be a metaphor for Ã¢â‚¬Ëœthe return of the repressed,Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ where basically surface Lupita has repressed the memory of how she escaped the underground bunker.
Similarly, underground Lupita may have gone through so many traumatic experiences, that she became so disturbed, she might as well have been born among the shadow people. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s certainly inferred.
Still, while we understand it was very rubbish down there, if Red was able to blend in with overground society (outside of not speaking for a bit), weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not entirely sure why literally every single tethered is a total psycho when they come up to the surface. It might make sense if they were killing their originals, but the news broadcast makes it clear that they start randomly killing people.
But, as far as we can tell, the ending is supposed to mean this:
Young Adelaide was switched with young Red. Red had such a nice upbringing she became a good person. Adelaide had such a terrible time she became a bad person.
While Red started a family, Adelaide was somehow able to break the tethered connection to gather the entire underground populace into a revolution, inspired by a TV broadcast of the Ã¢â‚¬ËœHands Across AmericaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ movement (in which people were encouraged to hold hands to bring attention to hunger and poverty Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 6.5 million took part, so weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re probably meant to assume thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the scale of the tethered protest, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what that very last shot is all about, which means Red has been very busily organising a lot of people who can only communicate in grunts and screams!)
This revolution is partly inspired by the fact Adelaide can do ballet (this is probably a metaphor for how art can free the spirit, but doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t really make sense on a practical level Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the tethered mimic whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going on overground, so they would have seen ballet before?), and by a Ã¢â‚¬ËœHands Across AmericaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ t-shirt she brought into the underground bunker (which makes us wonder, where do the tethered get their clothes from if theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re so impressed by this t-shirt? Do their clothes just manifest? Where does the dude pretending to work in the fairground get his Thriller t-shirt from?)
Anyway, around 30 years after the switch, Adelaide leads the revolution overground, and decides to go and confront her shadow, and her shadowÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s family. Presumably because sheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not an original tethered, she decides to toy with Red, whereas every other tethered immediately kills everyone they meet (seeking out their originals in some cases, and in some cases not).
This gives Red the opportunity to rally her family (who are also special Ã¢â‚¬â€œ because theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re half human, half tethered, which probably explains why theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re able to survive and fight back, where everyone else dies).
Then, we hit the end sequence Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and the look between Red and her son. This is presumably meant to suggest that they share a secret, the secret thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s at the heart of the movie Ã¢â‚¬â€œ that thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a very fine line between the tethered and human, and they are both now in touch with their dark sides, following the events of the film.
Then we get the final moments of the movie, the Mirror World Ã¢â‚¬ËœHands Across AmericaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ tracking shot, the tetheredÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬Å“performance artÃ¢â‚¬Â protest that demonstrates that the underclass are now in control of America (Ã¢â‚¬Å“weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re Americans.Ã¢â‚¬Â) and the world is now chaotic (bit of a weird message, but okay!) as a result.
So, make sure you keep repressing your dark side folks! And definitely make sure to keep those pesky mentally challenged / disturbed / underclass citizens / people who work with scissors in sweatshops in place, or things will get crazy!
Us is in UK cinemas now, and you should see it to make up your own mind.