While Us does not possess the instantly canonic social commentary that Get Out did, it does radiate messages about the importance of family, which is a message that feels new to the horror genre. In contrast to the closeness of the Wilson family, there are their friends the Tylers, featuring the douchebag dad Tim Heidecker; a rosé and plastic surgery aficionado Elisabeth Moss; and their insufferable twin teen daughters. This is a family that bickers and jokes about murdering each other, lubricating interactions with alcohol just to deal with one another. Major plot spoiler. It isn’t entirely shocking then when things don’t end well for the Tyler family; their detachment from each other is perhaps partly responsible for their demise.

Then there are the Tethered, who might technically be “a family” by biological definition, but possess no attachment, no love, for one another. “It’s just a family outside,” Gabe says naïvely, when he first sees the shadowy figures at the top of the driveway. Any one of them standing there alone might suggest something’s off, and yet mommy, daddy, daughter, and son, hands linked, are assumed to be no threat. And after being faced with their soulless, horrific copies, all of the little moments of disconnect between Adelaide, Gabe, Zora, and Jason that existed in the beginning, the sort of spats that would exist in any family, illuminate relationships taken for granted.


Because of this, Us has an extremely ’80s, almost Spielbergian streak. The film is littered with horror references from the decade, from the retro neon Santa Cruz carnival featured in The Lost Boys, to tales of people lurking underground in empty tunnels and boiler rooms, a la Nightmare On Elm Street or The Goonies, and a Jaws t-shirt that evokes the most terrifying of beach horror. As the family fights their evil twins, who are far stronger and faster than they are, the film’s chaotic, funny energy is reminiscent of Jurassic Park, flitting between fast, high-stakes action, horror, and humor. When the four first meet the Tethered, Gabe offers his newest purchase of the crappy boat named “the Craw Daddy,” which his family members have already roasted to death for being a piece of junk. The four monsters stare at him stone-faced, their eyes bloodshot saucers, and Zora whispers the punchline between sobs: “Nobody wants the boat, dad.”

Jordan Peele is not a cruel horror director, and there’s a funny, optimistic Poltergeist-level “let’s all hold hands around the dinner table and fight this shit together” feeling at the center of Us. It plays like a rebuke to recent horror movies that cast a hard, cynical gaze on family drama, including Hereditary, It Comes At Night, and Killing of a Sacred Deer, which all ruminate on what horrors can kill a family rather than strengthen it. And while Us may be marred with flaws, the family at its center can probably withstand anything.