In ‘Us,’ Jordan Peele Wants Fans To Examine How They’ve Contributed To Our Current ‘Dark Times’

Jordan Peele’s highly-anticipated second feature film, Us, is dropping later this month and this time around the writer and director wants audiences to examine a different kind of monster –the one within.

In a new interview with the Wall Street Journal Magazine, Peele said we’re currently living in dark times thanks to a myriad of issues. While it’s easy to blame any host of forces, from political leaders to corporate raiders, in Us, Peele wants fans to think about how they contribute to the dysfunction.

“With this one, I asked myself, ‘What are we not ready to talk about now?’ And the answer for me was, ‘What is my part in this mess?’” he told the WSJ.

“We’re living in a messy time,” Peele continued. “A dark time. And I think there’s plenty of blame to go around, but what I don’t see happening enough is people looking at their own part in this dark turn. It’s so much easier to blame the other. It connects to something in human nature, and to a duality in the history and present of this country as well: this fear of the outsider. This movie was a way to say, What if the intruder is us?”

Us centers on a family whose beach vacation goes dangerously awry when they run into a vicious family who looks just like them.

While the trailer promised another creepy horror film that’s sure to frighten audiences, Peele said he doesn’t just want to scare viewers with a bunch of cheap tricks. Instead, he employs a host of tactics that will have their imaginations working overtime.

“At one end of the spectrum, there’s the jump scare, and at the other end, there’s slow-building, unnerving anticipation—the terror,” he explained. “For my money, terror is the best type of scare, because it’s the promise of horror to come. When the audience is in that state, you don’t have to do much. Their imagination is more powerful than any piece of imagery or any timing or misdirection you could do.”

Universal Pictures / "Us"

“It’s about nurturing what’s inside of the audience,” Peele continued. “Setting their imagination free to do its worst.”

Last December, Peele — who burst on the scene as part of the comedic duo Key & Peele — called the project “a labor of love.”

“I’ve dedicated a lot of myself to creating a new horror mythology and a new monster,” he said at a private screening of the Us trailer. “I think that monsters and stories about monsters are one of the best ways of getting at deeper truths and facing our fears as a society.”

Peele’s ability to not just scare audiences, but also make them think made his first film, Get Out, a critical and commercial success. The film grossed over $100 million worldwide and earned Peele an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, making him the first Black writer to earn the trophy in that category.

While the pressure is definitely on for his follow-up film, it looks like Peele may be able to replicate Get Out’s success. According to Deadline, Us is on track to make $35-$40 million during its opening weekend, giving Peele his second big hit and solidifying his place as one of the new voices in horror.

Us hits theaters on March 22.

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