WARNING: Spoilers for Us Ahead
After shocking the world and shaking things up in the movie industry, Jordan Peele did it again. Us was a cinematic adventure that took us through all of our emotions. We laughed, we jumped, we screamed, and we ultimately left the theater scratching our heads in utter confusion.
So, let’s clear up some of the confusion and break down some of the things you missed with Sinfully Cinematic’s Us movie breakdown.
The Number 11
The number 11 clearly had a big impact on the film. However, you might not have caught all the references to the number. Check out this list, to see all the 11 references that you missed!
- “I want #11”: At the beginning of the movie, Adelaide’s father wins her a prize at the fair. When he asks what she wants, she says, “I want number 11” – the Thriller shirt.
- 11 Rabbit Cages: During the beginning credits, we see a bunch of rabbits locked in golden cages. If you look closely, you’ll see that the cages are arranged in 11 columns.
- Jeremiah 11:11: The homeless man that Adelaide passes by when she’s a child has a sign that says “Jeremiah 11:11”. There’s a lot of meaning behind this Bible verse, but we’ll chat about that in the next section.
- The Giants Game: When the Wilsons get back to their beach house after a day on the beach, Gabe starts to watch the Giants game and you can hear the sportscaster say that the score is 11-11.
- Make a Wish: When Adelaide tucks Jason into bed, he points out the time. They better make a wish because it’s 11:11.
- 11:11 to the Head: Later on, we see the homeless man from the fair again and this time, he has “11:11” painted on his head.
- The Ambulance: At the end of the movie when the Wilson family drives away, “11 11” is painted on the hood of the ambulance.
- The Black Flag: The man working the Whack-A-Mole game and one of the Tyler twins wears a Black Flag shirt that has four vertical lines on it. These lines look like the numbers 11 11.
It was very clear that the Bible verse, Jeremiah 11:11 was also extremely relevant to the plot of the film. We see it on the cardboard sign the man on the boardwalk carries and through all the 11 references throughout the movie.
Jeremiah 11:11 says, “Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them”.
This foreshadows Red’s plan to unleash the wrath of the Tethered on the world. Red is driven towards revenge and redemption for those that live underground and she’s willing to get that vengeance without any regard for anyone above ground.
Jeremiah was a prophet that warned the Jews in Babylon that God was upset about the fact that they were worshipping false idols. He prophesized that this false worship would ultimately lead to the end of Jerusalem.
In Us, the Tethered and Red, in particular, believed that the above ground world was worshipping things that they knew nothing about. Red told the Wilson family that they enjoyed all the privileges of the world and took them for granted while the Tethered had to eat raw rabbits, play with cold and sharp toys, and marry the shadow of the Prince Charmings. Therefore, they have come from the tunnels to end the world as they know it and take back their own life, much like Jeremiah prophecized.
References to Get Out
In Get Out, there’s a scene where Rose is in her childhood bedroom shifting through top NBA prospects in order to find her next victim. While she’s doing this, she’s also eating Fruit Loops and sipping on a glass of white milk through a black straw. Although Peele says he did this unintentionally, the milk scene sparked a lot of interest because two weeks prior to Get Out’s release, trollers hijacked Shia LaBeouf’s internet stream in New York and showed shirtless people covered in Nazi tattoos and chugging gallons of milk from jugs.
There seem to be references to this Get Out scene and the Shia Labeouf event in Us. During the beginning of the film, Adelaide’s father is trying to win her a prize at the fair by throwing balls at milk jugs. Do you see the milk reference again? This time, the father is breaking down the milk jugs and metaphorically breaking down the hate message.
After the Wilsons take down Josh and his family’s doppelgangers, they all sit down to discuss their next move. Jason then starts eating from a bowl of Fruit Loops on the table, much like Rose does in Get Out.
From Shaman’s Vision Quest to Merlin’s Forest
Despite the same owl that pops up and scares Adelaide and the similar interior design, the Hall of Mirrors actually changes names between 1986 and the current day. In 1986 it was known as “Shaman’s Vision Quest” and in the present, it is called “Merlin’s Forest”.
This name change is actually significant and references the plot of the film. A shaman can see into the sacred world through their visions of ancient spirits and power animals (like the rabbit). Through these vision quests, shamans can also make the visions come true, much like how Adelaide becomes haunted by her vision later in life.
Then, the Hall of Mirror’s name changes to “Merlin’s Forest”, which foreshadows the end of the film. Merlin’s forest in both history and pop culture is known as Brocéliande, or the enchanted forest that sometimes imprisons or kills Merlin. At the end of the movie, we find out that the real Adelaide has been imprisoned in the Hall of Mirrors since she was little and she ultimately dies there, just like Merlin.
Black Flag Shirts
Apparently, everyone in the movie likes the Black Flags because the band’s shirt was seen multiple times. The man working the Whack-A-Mole game when Adelaide was a child was wearing one of the shirts and one of the twin girls was also wearing a similar shirt on the beach.
Black Flag is a band from California that was popular in the 80s. Not only does their band’s logo look like the number 11, which adds to the Jeremiah 11:11 theme in Us, but they also sang about breaking down societal norms and challenging the system. They had a nonconformist and anti-authoritarian message that can also be seen as the Tethered challenged societal norms and attempted to untether themselves from their above-ground doppelgangers.
The Itsy Bitsy Spider
The song that Adelaide and Red both whistle in the Hall of Mirrors sounds like “Itsy Bitsy Spider”. The popular nursery rhyme tells of the adventures of a spider as it climbs out the waterspout, heads back down it, and returns to the sun again. Sound familiar? It also depicts the story of the Tethered heading out from the sewers to see the sun and inact their plan.
References to 80s Movies
During the film’s opening scene, we’re watching a television set that plays through scenes of California and the “Hands Across America” commercial. However, if you look around the TV screen, you’ll find a bunch of 80s references.
On both sides of the TV, you’ll find the movie The Goonies, The Right Stuff, The Man With Two Brains, and C.H.U.D. – all popular 80s films.
C.H.U.D. is particularly interesting because it’s plot is very similar to Us. In this 80s sci-fi horror film, the villains are humanoid monsters that come from the sewers to terrorize the city.
We also see many 80s references through the rest of the movie from Jason’s Jaws shirt to the many 80s music references. The Tyler twins’ Tethered doppelgangers were also very reminiscent of the twins from The Shining, another movie that released in the 80s.
Hands Across America
Hands Across America was a 1986 campaign where 6 million people formed a human chain across the country to try and raise awareness and money to combat hunger and homelessness. According to Peele, the charity also had a darkness to it, which inspired him to add it to Us. To him, “There was this kind of almost Stepford-creepy sense of American hope that we can do anything as long as we just hold our hands together”.
To Red, the charity represented her childhood and the hope of returning to her old life. Therefore, it was used in her plan to organize the Tethered and head to the light.
Interestingly, when the Wilsons start their vacation, the camera zooms in on their stick figure family sticker on the back of their car. This sticker is much like our modern-day version of the Hands Across America logo.
Adelaide Suggests Going to Mexico
After the Wilson family defeats the Tyler family’s doppelgangers, they sit down to discuss their next move and Adelaide says that they should go to Mexico. Although this seemed completely random, it actually wasn’t.
If you rewind to the Wilsons’ beach house, you’ll notice that they have a big book entitled “Mexico” on the shelf in their living room.
All of the White Rabbits
Jordan Peele has said, “I can say just about any piece of symbolism that you could pull from the rabbit specifically I think is applicable to this story”.
The white rabbit is seen in movies when people let go of their fears and release their distortions of reality – like Alice in Alice in Wonderland. In Us, the rabbit manifests itself in this form through the Tethered. The Tethered are the dark and distorted versions of the above-ground doppelgangers.
White rabbits are also a sign of healing and starting life anew, representing a sense of cleansing and disruption of societal norms. This is definitely true for the Tethered because they are taking back their lives and attempting to start anew. Through this cleansing, they’re also informing society of what they’ve done wrong and how they’ve been taking their life for granted.
Therefore, there are many white rabbits hidden throughout the movie. Did you find all of these?
- There are white rabbits in cages during the beginning credits, where the actors’ names are rolling across the screen.
- When “Adelaide” is at the therapist’s office with her parents, she plays with a row of toy animals. She specifically takes the rabbit and puts it in the middle of the line of toys. This is also the first hint that she’s not actually Adelaide.
- Zora’s shirt when they first arrive at the beach house is blue with a white rabbit on it.
- When Red is looking for Jason in the beach house, she comes across a toy white rabbit and she cuts its head off.
- There’s a bunny painted on the door of the Hall of Mirrors and an actual rabbit hops out when Adelaide opens the door.
- There are a bunch of white rabbits in the tunnels underneath the Hall of Mirrors.
The Black Crow and The Nutcracker
During the drive to their beach house, you can see Zora has a pin on her shirt with a crow or raven on it. Crows and ravens were said to be bad luck and God’s messengers in the mortal world. Therefore, the pin on Zora’s shirt likely foreshadows the horrific events to come.
On the other hand, a nutcracker represents power and strength and serves as a traditional messenger of good luck and goodwill. When the Tethered first arrive at the Wilsons’ beach house, Red smashes Adelaide’s face into their glass table and you can see a holder made out of nutcrackers. This likely represents Adelaide’s strength to keep her family together.
From Alexa to Ophelia
In this universe, there is no Alexa. Instead, their voice-recognition software is called Ophelia.
When we get a glimpse into the Tylers’ home, we hear them using Ophelia to change the music. Interestingly, Ophelia in Greek means “help” or “benefit”. Therefore, the character is seen in plays and stories as a heroine that likes to help. This is fitting for an Alexa-type device that is meant to help families, but it’s also humorous, seeing how Ophelia provided absolutely no help to the Tylers in their time of need. She didn’t call the police and instead played music during their gruesome murders.
Ophelia is also from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. She is Hamlet’s lover who eventually goes insane and drowns herself. This could also be a reference to the Tethered coming to kill their doppelgangers and ultimately a piece of themselves.
Staying On Beat Foreshadows Adelaide’s Reveal
At the end of the film, we had a lot of “Ah-ha” moments as we looked back and uncovered all the signs that showed Adelaide wasn’t who she said she was.
One of the biggest reveals occurred when Adelaide was teaching her son, Jason to stay “on beat” in the car. To her, staying “on beat” was extremely important for her as she took over her new life and made sure that she fit in.
In fact, staying “on beat” was also important to the real Adelaide as she tried to make the Tethered understand that she was special. Her ability to dance was integral to convincing them to rise above and take back their life.
All of the Gold and White
The color gold represents a vast number of things. For most, it represents power, success, and wealth. However, in religion, it has constantly represented the brightness of the day, along with the color white. Therefore, there is a lot of contrast between the two colors in the movie.
All of the above-ground doppelgangers are associated with both the colors gold and white. Adelaide wears a gold necklace, watch, and ring and is always seen wearing white clothes throughout the film. When she arrives at the beach house she’s wearing a white dress and then changes into a white shirt, white cap, and goldish yellow bathing suit to go to the beach. At night, Adelaide puts on a white shirt with a white sweater and we also see a photo of her wearing a white ballet tutu in her room.
Even the rabbits that we see at the beginning of the movie are white and positioned against golden cages.
The color gold makes more appearances throughout the movie. The Wilsons’ beach house is painted a goldish yellow color, Zora uses a golden golf club as a weapon at the Tylers’ house, and of course, the golden scissors.
Scissors typically represent cutting a life thread and the separation of two worlds. Golden scissors in particular, likely represent the severance of inherited problems or past. This is why the golden scissors are the Tethered’s weapon of choice. It portrays their release from their old world and the severance of the ties to their doppelgangers. The handles of scissors also look like the ears of the white rabbits, tying the entire movie together.
The Tethered’s Clothes Reference Michael Jackson
When Adelaide’s dad wins her a prize at the fair, she picks a Michael Jackson Thriller shirt. This choice shows the child’s fascination with Michael Jackson and comes back into the plot later on.
During the Tethered’s uprising, they’re all wearing red clothes with one brown glove on their right hand. This is clearly a reference to Michael Jackson’s attire. In the “Thriller” music video, Jackson wears a red outfit that looks similar to the ones that all the Tethered wear. The glove on their hand is also a reference to the sequined glove Jackson tended to wear on his right hand.
Now, I’m not sure how the Tethered had access to these clothes while living under the fairgrounds, but that’s an entirely different story.
Jason Himself is an Easter Egg
The Wilsons’ little boy is named Jason, much like the mass murderer from the classic horror films, Friday the 13th. He also wears a mask just like the murderous Jason does in his films. However, this mask is very similar to the mask that Winston Duke, the actor who plays Gabe Wilson, wears in Black Panther when M’Baku challenges T’Challa for the crown.
Did you catch any other Easter eggs or references in Us? Let me know in the comments!