“If you wanna get crazy, we can get crazy!”
Us is one of the reasons why I love going to the movies; some critics loved it, while others hated it. No matter your opinion, everyone is talking about it.
Jordan Peele follows Get Out with his sophomore film once again putting America
– US – under a massive magnifying glass. Us presents a satirical look at America’s fractured landscape coupled with brilliant cinematography and endless pop culture references while exploring America’s past and present demons.
In case you didn’t notice, director/writer/producer Jordan Peele is a huge horror movie fanatic. The film is covered with Easter egg references from start to finish that homage movies, to events, to music from bygone eras. “Everything in this movie was deliberate, that is one thing I can guarantee you,” Jordan Peele said in promotional interviews.
As the title to my post suggests, I’m totally here for that. I see you Jordan Peele, and despite the gaping holes and flaws in this movie, I love what you’ve incorporated into this script.
Here’s a look at some of my favorite Easter eggs in the movie
The Lost Boys
The Lost Boys (1987) is probably my favorite homage in the movie. Several key scenes in The Lost Boys take place on the Santa Cruz Boardwalk (or Santa Carla as they re-named it for the movie).
Likewise, a huge chunk of Us takes place at the same boardwalk in 1986 and present day. Adelaide’s mother even says, “You know, they’re shooting a movie over there by the carousel.”
Corey Feldman/Corey Haim/The Goonies
When it comes to referencing the ’80s, Peele pays tribute to one of the biggest teen icons of that decade – Corey Feldman (and Haim respectively). Both actors starred in The Lost Boys, and Feldman was the breakout star in The Goonies.
In an interview with Uproxx, Peele explains that Feldman was “a very important figure for our generation. And [actor Corey] Haim, too. These guys are the epitome of cool. They were kids who were as cool as it got. And stories of great duality, sagas of the highest highs and the lowest lows and great tragedies.”
The reference to The Goonies, another adventure in underground tunnels, is a quote from Red’s speech in the underground classroom paraphrasing Sean Astin’s speech from Goonies stating, “It’s our time now. Our time up there.”
One of the more obvious references is the terror created at the idyllic beach originally crafted in Jaws, and similarly in Us when Jason wanders off from his family at the beach. The facade of beautiful beach-life is uprooted by the terrors that accompany the main characters in both films.
More blatant is the Jaws shirt that Jason wears in the beginning of the movie as a classic shout-out to the movie.
Gabe’s obsession with his boat takes a turn after a series of hellish events that he declares “Boats are done! I’m done with boats!” might be a callback to the Jaws line: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
One of the most glaring references, if you pickup on anything in this movie, is all the references to Kubrick’s The Shining (1980). The parallels between Us and The Shining is abundant in the film…to the point where Peele even does a little cosplay on a press junket wearing the same outfit that Jack Nicholson wore in the film. Coincidence? Nah.
Both the beginning and ending of Us copies The Shining by recreating a carride along the countryside accompanied with a booming score.
The Tyler twins in Us also appear to be a reference to the Grady twins from The Shining. With similar postures to the twins in The Shining, instead of asking Zora “come play with us” they instead make fun of Jason playing in the sand. Similarly, after the Tyler twin murders, their bloodied bodies are laying in similar positions to the Grady twins murder flashbacks.
Night of the Living Dead
I found the homage to Night of the Living Dead to be strikingly subtle, and I almost missed it. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead was a big game-changer incorporating both horror and violence in a way that audiences had never seen before in 1968. Peele introduces the Tethered in a shot in the Wilsons’ driveway. Distant, foreboding and terrifyingly silent.
Night of the Living Dead also introduced the trope of the main characters learning through televised newscasts that the horror around them is spreading, similarly seen in Us as the Tethered begin to spread their violence across the nation.
Another obvious reference is to Michael Jackson…specifically to “Thriller”. The shirt Adelaide wears in the beginning of the movie is a clear reference, but MJ is also referenced by the single-glove wearing Tethered.
Peele also told Mashable that Jackson’s legacy as an inspirational figure and as a manipulative abuser also made him a perfect match for the theme of duality in Us.
“Michael Jackson is probably the patron saint of duality,” Peele said in an interview with Mashable. “The Movie starts in the ’80s–the duality with which I experienced him [Jackson] in that time was both as the guy that presented this outward positivity, but also the ‘Thriller’ video which scared me to death.” In relation to the recent HBO documentary Leaving Neverland, Peele added, “The irony and relevance is not lost on me now that the discussion has evolved to one of true horror.”
A Clockwork Orange
Although I haven’t seen A Clockwork Orange, I caught it’s reference in the scene where the Tyler’s are fighting for survival during the home invasion by their Tethered. Both Us and Clockwork feature sequences of mass violence accompanied by out-of-place music (“Singin’ in the Rain” in Clockwork and “Good Vibrations/Fuck Tha Police” in Us).
It may be very subtle, but it’s one of the most memorable scenes in the movie.
The Twilight Zone
I only caught this final reference worth noting while researching this post. Apparently, an episode of The Twilight Zone called “Mirror Image”… about a woman who realizes that an evil copy of herself has taken over her life. … was the complete inspiration behind Us.
Peele is a huge fan of the classic Sci-Fi series The Twilight Zone—so big, in fact, that he’s revamped the series for an upcoming reboot that premieres next month.
Peele was quoted saying, ““There’s something about this idea that the doppelganger that has this creepy smile . . . they know more than you know.”
These are only a handful of references in the movie that I loved, but there are many more to spot if you see the movie.
What pop culture references did you love? Lemme know!