As in 2017's Get Out, Jordan Peele's latest bone-chilling horror film Us has many mysteries to unravel.
Some are hiding in plain sight or presented as cute moments in the trailer; others are daring you to piece together how they tie in to the overarching story of doppelgangers wreaking havoc on a family vacation; but the most important one is how you unpack the underlying sociopolitical commentary with which Peele suffused his sophomore directorial effort. Much like the haunting final moments of the movie, the implications of Us and what Peele and his artistic collaborators were trying say will stick to your ribs long after the credits roll.
Inspired by Peele's comments during a Q&A at SXSW about the film's larger social message, we wanted to hear from those who actually created the film and get their thoughts on the matter. To go deeper inside their creative process, Nerdist's Markeia McCarty sat down with Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke, and Jordan Peele to talk to them about why Us is a story that is both relevant to the world in which we live and one that needed to be told.
"There is both light and darkness, and when the darkness goes unattended to, that’s when it gets out of hand and you experience destruction in the world," said Nyong'o of the film's exploration of duality. "So I think this is a film that’s really investigating that darkness within ourselves and perhaps even asking us to recognize it. Because in recognizing it, we can keep it at bay."
"Us is based around cultures of privilege and power, and that relates directly to the American Dream," Winston Duke said of the film's broader cultural context. "The American Dream is to 'make it,' but what does making it entail? It entails making a certain amount of money, buying a house, participating in a certain type of economy in a certain way. You don’t really make it to the American Dream unless certain things are accepted. But the construct of the American Dream is also tied to a lot of problematic things, you know what I mean? Complicated history, history of slavery, of native issues, you know what I mean? And if you buy into it, no matter what your personal history is—you might come from a history of being oppressed, a history of being marginalized and made invisible--but as long as you buy into the construct, you’re now responsible for its sins. It will then take on the appearance of your face, it’s now your footprint, and are you prepared for that? That’s the question."
It's a question that we'll be wrestling with for quite some time. For our complete interviews with the cast of Us, watch the video above.
Us is in theaters now! You can read our review here and our spoiler-filled dissection of that insane-ending too.