Us, the second feature film from writer-director Jordan Peele, has already left a lasting impression. The movie made a big splash its opening weekend, snatching up a record-breaking $70 million at the box office. Us only cost $20 million, which means it doubled its projected revenue and gained back its production costs at least threefold, had the best opening weekend for an original horror movie, as well as the best opening for a live-action original film in the last decade (the last original movie to do this was James Cameron’s Avatar in 2009). Additionally, it’s been reported that no other major studio chose to release a new film this weekend. Distributors knew what they would be up against, which is to say, they got out of the way of a critical and commercial juggernaut.
On the surface, Peele’s film appears to be about a typical American family comprised of a mom, a dad, a boy, and a girl, played by, respectively, Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Evan Alex, and Shahadi Wright Joseph. When the Wilson family goes on a vacation to Santa Cruz, they are hunted by a separate family of doppelgängers who appear to be identical copies tethered to their world. But Us was born from the same mind who created Get Out, so viewers should know better than to do a simple surface reading of the film. Themes of duality, aboveground privilege versus underground poverty, and even the concept of double consciousness permeate the narrative. It also happens to be a straight-up scary movie.
With the landmark box office success also comes the highly anticipated response from the audience. If you glance at Twitter, Us left people disturbed, shivering from fear, and scratching their heads as they attempted to unpack the film’s shocking ending, but it also left people laughing. Peele also presents horror and humor as two sides of the same coin within the film (as scary as Us can be, it’s just as funny at times, too). Thus, some inevitable memes were born, and continue to make their rounds on social media as the attention to Us gains traction at the box office and on the Internet.
As for the film’s biggest twist, which—spoiler alert—involves the discovery that Red (the creepy, “evil” version of Nyong’o’s character) took Adelaide’s place in the world (and Adelaide was banished to the tunnels) when the two met as children underneath the boardwalk, you know the citizens of Twitter couldn’t resist making a joke out of that too.