'Us': I’m Still Not Over That Horrifying Twist Ending – Decider

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Jordan Peele‘s Us finally hit streaming this month, so you can watch the most haunting movie ever anytime you want.
No, but seriously, I’m still shook up and psychologically ruined by the ending of Us. 
Us tells the story of Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o), who as a young girl, goes wandering away from her arguing parents at a fairground and winds up coming face-to-face with her doppelganger, Red. The film then jumps decades in the future. Adelaide is now a wife and mother to two children, Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex). When the family vacations at the exact same beach she saw Red, Adelaide begins to feel off, and as if something’s coming for her.
That night, doubles of Adelaide, her husband Gabe (Winston Duke), and their two children show up at their vacation home, determined to torture and kill everyone. Red is the leader of these doppelgangers and she speaks for them, explaining that they are the Tethered and they have come out from the tunnels below to “untether” themselves from their others. Adelaide and her family spend the night fighting their Tethered doubles and discover that everyone has one.
However, the final twist is that Adelaide is not actually the real Adelaide. Red is. “Adelaide” swapped roles with her double in order to escape the subterranean hell of the Tethered, and she has been keeping this secret her whole life. By the end of the film, only her son Jason realizes this, as he witnesses his mother kill Red, the real, original Adelaide. In doing so, Adelaide shows off her true nature.
On the surface, all that is pretty messed up. However, ever since I’ve seen Us, I’ve understood the implication of this twist goes deeper than that. It is, as critics like Emily VanDerWerff have pointed out, layered with metaphoric meaning. Much of it focussed on how society deems some people more worthy of existence than others. The Tethered are thought of as soulless, brainless monsters, but Adelaide’s ability to integrate into society proves this isn’t necessarily the case. When given access to the sunlight, language, and free will, the Tethereds have the same capacity for “humanity” as any of us.
Us‘s ending also forces us to consider the responsibility of “getting out” of oppression. Adelaide doesn’t ever attempt to save the others imprisoned below. Rather, she adopts an “us” vs. “them” mentality that hardly makes her a hero. In fact, she could be seen as the villain of the movie. That fierce, beautiful mother protecting her family is also morally corrupt.
There isn’t an easy way to look at Peele’s complicated ending and because of that, it won’t let me go. Us has made me reconsider how I look at my own biography, institutional racism, and the inherent cruelty in meaningless gestures of support. (Hands Across America did what exactly?)
So, sure, I can go back and watch Us whenever and wherever I want now, but I almost don’t have to. The film’s ending has been clawing into my psyche since I left the theater months ago.
Where to stream Us (2019)
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