Jordan Peele explained Us’ ambiguous ending scene. As the follow-up to Peele’s directorial debut Get Out, Us has already achieved record-breaking status at the box office, as well as huge amounts of critical acclaim. Arguably one of the most genuinely frightening horror films to come along in some time, Us provides solid proof that Jordan Peele’s success with Get Out wasn’t a one-off.
Starring Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, and Tim Heidecker, Us follows the Wilson family (Nyong’o and Duke) as they head to their family beach house with their two children for the summer. Adelaide (Nyong’o) feels an uncomfortable attachment to the local area since having accidentally been separated from her parents one evening when she was a child. As her feelings turn to anxiety, the Wilsons are visited by a strange family one night, its members exact doppelgängers of the vacationing Wilsons. These doppelgängers (known as the Tethered) quickly become the Wilson’s worst nightmare, and the film progresses at a nail-biting rate, escalating until its final, shocking twist.
Because the ending is so surprising, some have found it to be rather ambiguous. Us packs a lot into its 116-minutes, making it easy for audiences to be distracted or too scared to immediately consider the film’s open ending. Fortunately, The A.V. Club have relayed Jordan Peele’s explanation of the ending – in which the surviving version of Adelaide is revealed to actually be a Tethered – as a metaphor for the monster being us; that it’s about looking at ourselves as individuals and a group. Peele said:
“This movie’s about maybe the monster is you. It’s about us kind of looking at ourselves as individuals and as a group. The protagonist in a movie is the surrogate for the audience. So it felt like, at the end of the day, I wasn’t doing my core theme any justice if I wasn’t revealing that we have been the bad guy in this movie. We’ve been following the villain.”
In addition to this insight, Peele also stated that he uses the term “villain”lightly, as the film strives to create questions surrounding good and evil, as well as how we perceive otherness when confronted with the mixture of human beings that are both Tethered and Untethered in Us. Lastly, Peele explained his take on that final creepy smile that Adelaide gives the audience and her son, Jason, at the film’s conclusion:
“I think the little smile she gives him is a lot of things. I think it’s a connection to the evil smile she once had as a little girl, but also a sort of understanding that her family unit was stronger from this experience.”
The ambiguity of what becomes of Earth and the people living among the Tethered is central to many of the questions being asked about Us. And while the internet continues to be filled with theory after theory regarding the Tethered and the Untethered, Peele’s ability to keep fans thinking and talking long after they’ve seen the film is a marvel in an era that typically sees popular Hollywood films answer any questions with sequels. For his part, Peele has made his point with Us, leaving audiences with an untold number of unique secrets to be explored on their own.