Us is Jordan Peele’s latest horror that has a hell of a lot to unpack from it. The ending of the film may leave some viewers scratching their heads so I thought I’d put together an explanation to break down everything that you need to know about the movie and it’s ending.
This is full spoilers ahead, so if you haven’t seen the film yet and don’t want to know what happens then I highly recommend that you turn off now.
With that out the way, I’m Deffinition and welcome to the channel where I explain it so you don’t have to!
Us: Plot Synopsis
Us follows the story of Adelaide Wilson, who, along with the rest of her family return to her childhood beach home for a vacation. Adelaide is haunted by nightmares from her youth and she gets increasingly worried that something bad is about to happen to her family. These fears quickly become a reality when four Doppelgangers descend upon her home one night and throughout the film, they do their best to terrorise the family whilst the family try and get to the bottom of the mystery of who they are.
Adelaide’s Doppelganger is the leader and she uses the rest of the Tethered to separate the family and spread them out which involves several different scenarios and eventually leads to them discovering that everyone has a shadow version of themselves. These shadow people, know as the tethered, live underground, eat rabbits and mirror the movements of those on the surface.
It’s stated in the film that The Tethered may be part of a government experiment and whilst it’s not detailed this ties into the overall message of the film which I’ll go into later. They have been put in place to attempt to reverse the control that those who live above have over them and instead allow for the tethered to control the people on the surface.
We learn that The Tethered have come to kill their opposites and unite and to show themselves to the world.
Us: Ending Explained
Throughout the film, we learn of Adelaide’s childhood, including a time when she was at a carnival with her parents and after wandering into a hall of mirrors, she witnesses a mirror version of herself that is a completely different person. This opens the movie but we learn a lot more of this backstory as the film goes on. It turns out that the beach house is in the same location that the carnival was that she visited as a child and the trauma that she experienced there has come back in full force.
Though the family manages to kill some of The Tethered, upon returning to the beach the next day they see many of them holding hands as a symbol of their union and show that this is Us. Adelaide’s doppelganger manages to kidnap Adelaide’s son and descends into the subsurface world. Adelaide follows her through the hall of mirrors from her childhood in which there was a doorway and we learn the truth behind the movie.
It turns out that Adelaide’s doppelganger planned the entire thing and has been waiting for 30 years to spring her trap. It appears that Adelaide manages to kill her Doppelganger and rescue her son, however, we learn that when Adelaide originally met her Doppelganger in the hall of mirrors, they actually switched places.
This is why Adelaide is the only member of The Tethered that is able to speak and this explains her quest for revenge. The Doppelganger upon reaching the surface as a child was able to adjust over time to normal life but it still has traumatic memories of this part of its life. The real Adelaide has been the one trapped underground and this drive to need to return to the surface is why she began attempting to command the army of Doppelgangers.
The twist feels like it was ripped straight out of the Goosebumps book: Let’s get invisible and those who remember that episode will, of course, see a lot of similarities here.
The Tethered Explained
Jordan Peele when speaking frankly about the creatures stated the following:
“We’re our own worst enemy, and that idea created this monster, The Tethered. I wanted to forge this new mythology that explored our duality and the duality of the characters. I think what was a fun challenge for actors, was finding the connections between the characters and their counterparts.”
So from that we can assume that perhaps The Tethered are birthed through subconsciousness and trauma that manifests in the film to torture the protagonists.
At the premiere for the film, when questioned the director said:
“On the broader strokes of things, this movie is about this country. I was stricken with the fact that we are in a time where we fear the other, whether it is the mysterious invader that we think is going to come and kill us, take our jobs, or the faction that we don’t live near that voted a different way than us. We’re all about pointing the finger. And I wanted to suggest that maybe the monster we really need to look at has our face, maybe the evil is us.”
This makes a lot of and though this may be a reach, perhaps the title US actually isn’t just ‘Us’ but it is also ‘U.S.’
If correct this could also mean that perhaps we must look at ourselves to be positive in order to create a better world for tomorrow. No, this is an anti-America hate rant, it’s just that perhaps the film is putting the responsibility on us for letting the world get to the point that it is.
The Scissors too hold their own significance to Peele which is conforms to the overall message of the film. He stated that:
“When we talk about the scissors and the rabbits, for every choice like that, there are several different reasons that clicked to me but the first test that anything passed was the genre test. So does it conjure the horror genre to me, which is a limitation that I feel very dedicated to working within. I think rabbits and scissors, they’re both scary things to me, and both inane things, so I love subverting and bringing out the scariness in things you wouldn’t necessarily associate with that.”
This again cements that whilst ghosts, werewolves and more may be scary on a supernatural level, in real life when compared to the mundane they are a mere fantasy.
What The Tethered Mean
This is what’s most horrifying about The Tethered, the showcase all of the things that we have tried to push beneath the surface that will eventually come back to haunt us. However, there are other things that can be taken from the mysterious creatures.
They represent the rising of the oppressed and that it’s now time for those to finally be in the light and showcase that they are the majority rather than the minority. There are clear allusions to the Me Too Movement, Black Lives Matter and more and the film is a clear commentary on the social situations that are happening in the world today.
It’s quite a nice little metaphor and whilst I do feel that the film falls apart in certain areas, the meaning behind it is still strong.
Obviously, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the film and if you took anything different from it. If you enjoyed this video then please like it and make sure you check out my break down of last week’s other big movie, Captain Marvel, which will be linked at the end.