**Spoilers for Jordan Peele’s latest film ‘Us.’ You’ve been warned.**
Without a doubt, “Us” is a film that benefits from being watched multiple times. After the twist ending, writer-director Jordan Peele almost demands that the audience go back and rewatch the film to catch all the complexities and hints that not everyone is who you think they are. But with all the discussion over the themes of the film, as well as the twists and turns, people really aren’t talking about the religious themes shown in the film.
Now, at first glance, you’ll notice that the number eleven is used over and over again. Of course, you’ll write that off as Peele talking about doppelgangers and how the number itself is just two ones side by side. So, when you see the old man at the boardwalk holding up a “Jeremiah 11:11” sign, you might just think the filmmaker is pushing the ‘11’ thing more. Instead, there’s more to that religious iconography than you might initially believe.
“[Easter is] a holiday of much duality in itself,” Peele said, in a new interview with Empire. “It’s the rising from this grave, and this movie is sort of this dark Easter. It is a rising of a messiah after a metaphorical death of sorts. A declaration to the world, as well.”
He goes onto explain that the Jeremiah 11:11 verse, itself, is important, as it relates to the rise of Red, the lead character’s doppelganger in the film.
“[Red] had a vision, she’s had a connection to what she calls god,” he said. “I think one of the breakthroughs in the writing process was realizing that the dynamic of the Tethered was cult. That they have a complete faith in their messiah, that is Red. And to ultimately imply that them being the dark sides of us, we are in a cult as well. Just a less scary one on the surface.”
Another aspect of the film that has confused viewers, and has sparked debate, is when Red answers the Wilson family’s question “Who are you?” by just replying that the doppelgangers are “Americans.” According to Peele, that was meant to bring more questions.
“It’s so satisfying to me in a horror movie when a question is answered, but it only remains scary if the answer raises new questions,” he said.
He added, “I wanted to have a moment where she declares pretty early on without saying these words, ‘Look, we’re from here. We’re human beings that are from this soil.’ Which of course you go on to find out, oh yes they are. […] I think ‘Us’ can apply to anybody, human beings in general, your family, your country. And so for me, it was my country and the duality of our society.”
And the filmmaker goes on to say that another question being raised is the debate over nature versus nurture. Are the Tethered inherently evil or are their actions a consequence of their circumstance?
“One of the questions raised is privilege,” explained Peele. “The neglect that presumption of deserved privilege requires. And when people are on the other side of it, when people have received the rough end of the nurture argument and they rebel or act in violence, or commit crimes on that side, is that evil? Or is that circumstance?”
As is evident by the end of the film, the audience is aware that the “Hands Across America” demonstration goes well past the small beach community, which has led many to wonder if Peele will continue telling the story of the Tethered.
“There’s a lot of different ways to approach continuing in this universe that are at the very least fun in my mind and computer,” he said. But of course, he doesn’t think he’ll get to it anytime soon, as he said he has plenty more, non-’Us’ stories to tell.
“Us” is in theaters now.