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'Us': Jordan Peele on title's double meaning, how state of America inspired the new horror movie

·Senior Correspondent, Yahoo Entertainment
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Jordan Peele is simultaneously becoming film’s new master of suspense and one of its deepest thinkers, too.

Like Get Out, his sophomore directorial effort Us is a biting social allegory cloaked in a genre movie. Us, about a family of four whose weekend getaway is interrupted by the arrival of their murderous doppelgängers, is more of a straight horror movie than Get Out, as Peele recently stated bluntly to the echo of 45 thousand retweets on Twitter.

And while many of the questions it raises are answered, it’s also a film that’s left earlier viewers — like those who caught its premiere at the SXSW Film Festival, a bit confused or discombobulated when it came to some of its deeper meanings.

“I think one of the things in a horror movie that can challenge the scariness is when the answers are easy and it is tied up in a nice, neat bow,” Peele told Yahoo Entertainment at the film’s Los Angeles press day (watch above). “I wanted to provide enough answers to satisfy and fascinate, but also give peoples’ imagination runway to sort of take them into their nightmares.”

Like Get Out, Us is stacked with puzzle pieces and Easter eggs to discover and decode. There’s one double meaning right there in the title: Us refers to the fact that these characters are being hunted by themselves, but add a couple periods and it becomes U.S., as in our country.

This is driven home by one scene in particular, when Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o) asks her “shadow” who they are and she replies, “We’re Americans.”

Peele all but confirmed it: “There’s a double meaning to everything. Look, this movie’s about duality, and there’s no choice that I’m not trying to layer. Yeah, the state of this country inspired me. We’re a country that is afraid of the outsider. We’re afraid of the other, whether it’s within our borders or outside of our borders. And I think when we fail to point a finger inward, we’re capable of really messing up in big ways.”

To read between the lines for a moment: As the U.S. president aims to ban travelers from Muslim countries and erect a wall on the Mexican border in fear of terrorism and gangs or drugs, little is being done about the epidemic of gun violence and all the harm we as Americans do to each other on a daily basis.

Also like the racial satire Get Out, Us is likely to be analyzed for years, and Peele admits he takes great satisfaction in all of the online theorizing.

“Oh yeah, that’s the best,” he said. “I think anything I do is gonna be first and foremost to entertain, but by way of that, spark conversation. And I get to listen to the conversations, it’s about things that fascinate me.”

Us opens Friday. Watch the trailer:


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