Writer-director Jordan Peele is being regarded as a newly established master of the horror genre by his many fans.
His directorial feature-debut Get Out was the most discussed and widely praised film of 2017, and his success looks set to continue. Already he has made history; his fright-inducing race-satire was nominated for four Academy Awards, and actually won Best Original Screenplay. As well as securing awards success, the film was an unprecedented box-office success, turning this relatively low-budget Blumhouse production into a global phenomenon.
Peele’s directorial absence in 2018 has been the result of much more hard work. Recently, a trailer for the director’s sophomore effort dropped. Simply titled “Us”, the film concerns a family who head out on vacation to a beach house, only to find that they are terrorised by strangers when they get there. This was all audiences knew until mere days ago. However, the film’s first official trailer has given us a lot more to digest.
The narrative looks like it will explore a surreal and dangerous duality; with Peele, nothing should ever be taken at surface-value. Once again it looks like the director is serving up a horror-satire dealing with the theme of race. However, this time it looks like his work is much more entrenched in the horror genre. Get Out can be considered more of a thriller, of which subverted and manipulated horror tropes, sometimes for comedic effect. Instead, Us looks like a bona-fide genre film; it’s sure to be an intelligent one.
Writer Jordan Peele, winner of the Best Original Screenplay award for 'Get Out,' poses inside the Press Room of the 90th Annual Academy Awards held at Hollywood & Highland Center on March...
While the family are at the beach house, they discover that a group of people are stood at the end of the driveway, faces concealed by darkness. When the father decides to investigate, these figures appear to invade the household and confront the family, during which it is revealed that these invaders resemble each member of the family. These doppelgӓngers are the creepiest mirror image of the respective family members, and provide some uncomfortable horror imagery. Voice-over informs us that “they look like us… they think like us”, and it’s suggested that the narrative will deal with the family having to understand and overcome their mysterious counterparts.
This looks like a much more elaborate production than Get Out. One shot of a masked doppelgӓnger escaping a car wreckage engulfed in flames signals an otherworldly immortality. Knowing Jordan Peele, the only way to banish these figures is to understand why they are there and who exactly they are, and this is something we are all dying to discover. The trailer suggests a battle against oneself, but what we really have here is an exploration of the theme of replacement. The family are being presented with themselves as the enemy, perhaps having to defeat the stigma which has materially manifested, in this case literally threatening their safety rather than abstractly. It could also be dealing the concept of cloning, as one moment seems to show the interior of a building which resembles a research facility, inhabited by caged and roaming white rabbits.
Although we have learnt a lot from such limited footage, the project is still shrouded in mystery, and that’s exactly how it should be. The trailer definitely evokes the atmosphere of David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows, but Jordan Peele is likely to deliver something highly original. We are being sold a mystery here, and we cannot wait to attempt solving it.
“Us” looks all set for a March release.
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