From start to finish, Jordan Peele's Us is just as scary as you want it to be. But it's not just scary. There's something different about Us that sets it apart from other films in the genre, and that's all thanks to writer-director Jordan Peele. Not only is he giving audiences jump scares and truly nightmare-worthy images, but he's also laced in a ton of Easter eggs and hidden references throughout the film. There are tons of creepy Us theories and Easter eggs you might have missed, even if you've seen it multiple times, and we're here to break the best ones down.
Peele's first film, Get Out, was released in 2017, and two years later, fans are still coming up with theories and dissecting every little detail in the movie. And it's safe to say that fans will be doing the same thing with Us for years to come. The plot of the film, about a family confronted by their disturbed (and murderous) doppelgängers, is intricate and thrilling, with a huge twist at the end that hits you like a ton of bricks. With all that flooding your brain, it can be easy to forget about the small details and clues littered throughout the film, let alone process everything and turn it into actual theories about the deeper meaning of the film. Here are the nine theories and little details you may have missed, and what they mean.
1. VHS Tapes
In the first scene in the film, there's a TV ad that comes on an older television set that's marketing the Hands Across America campaign from 1986. The campaign is the focus of the scene, which might have distracted some fans from the VHS tapes lined up beside the TV. (Remember those? Big cassettes used to watch movies at home before discs became a thing?)
Of those tapes, Vulture pointed out a few VHS tapes that might have a bigger meaning in connection to the movie. Among them are CHUD, The Goonies, The Man With Two Brains, The Right Stuff, and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Peele has said that these titles hold personal significance for him.
"Fun fact: My first girlfriend’s father directed CHUD, when I was, like, 11 or 12 or something like that. Her father was Douglas Cheek. So that was my introduction to CHUD," Peele said in an interview with Polygon. "So there’s a little personal thing for me." That movie also has a premise that involves beings from underground who come up through the sewers and kill. Sound familiar?
2. The Goonies & Corey Feldman
The Goonies also has major significance in the film, as Peele told Uproxx. The director included an iconic line from The Goonies — "It’s our time now" — in the movie, and there are three Corey Feldman references in Us. According to Peele, Feldman is referenced again when dialogue hints that The Lost Boys is being filmed at the Santa Cruz pier where Adelaide is traumatized as a child. The other reference is to the fact that Feldman had a friendship with Michael Jackson (via the "Thriller" t-shirt), and all three connections were confirmed by Peele himself. As to why he chose to include Feldman that much, Peele said,
"Corey Feldman, as you well know, I mean, a very important figure for our generation... And [Corey] Haim, too. These guys are the epitome of cool. They were kids who were as cool as it got. And stories of great duality, sagas of the highest highs and the lowest lows and great tragedies... Feldman in Goonies, as Mouth, is one of the great scene-stealing performances. He had no reason he should have been the breakout of that movie, but he was."
3. The Rabbits
Besides their benign creepiness, bunnies aren't just a random choice to include in Us, as noted by PopSugar. As explained in the movie, bunnies are the only food source the Tethered have. As Red tells Adelaide, they have to eat them raw and bloody whenever their above-ground counterpart eats anything. This may sound like cruel and unusual punishment, but it actually makes sense. Rabbits breed a lot and fairly often, making them an easy, reliable food option. Rabbits are also known to be experimented on often, and it's possible they're a metaphor for the Tethered, who are implied to be experiments as well.
4. The Tethered's outfits
It's hard not to notice the Tethered's uniforms: they all wore blood red coverall jumpsuits and one tan leather fingerless glove. It's very similar to the coveralls Michael Myers wears in all his Halloween movies, as noted by Vulture. Make of that what you will.
5. This Is "Thriller"
The color of the Tethered outfits might actually be a reference to the jacket Michael Jackson wears in the "Thriller" video. This is of course in addition to the direct nod to "Thriller" with the shirt that Adelaide wins from the boardwalk game. The famous one-glove look, mirrored by the Tethered, is also Jackson's. In an interview with Mashable, Peele noted that this, of course, is on purpose. He said:
“Michael Jackson is probably the patron saint of duality... The movie starts in the 80s — the duality with which I experienced him [Jackson] in that time was both as the guy that presented this outward positivity, but also the ‘Thriller’ video which scared me to death."
Reddit user condiricenbeans also noted that the ending to the "Thriller" video mirrors the ending of Us. In the video, Michael Jackson's character is revealed to have been a zombie the whole time. Then, his girlfriend wakes up, thinking it was all a dream. The video ends with Jackson turning to the screen, revealing monstrous eyes. In the end of Us, it's revealed that Red was the real Adelaide all along, and the woman believed to have been Adelaide all along is really the Tethered, but only the audience (and Jason) knows this.
Speaking with Mashable, Peele noted that these Michael Jackson references in Us now hold a new, more disturbing meaning in the wake of Leaving Neverland, a documentary that described two men's allegations that Jackson molested them as children. “The irony and relevance is not lost on me now that the discussion has evolved to one of true horror," Peele said.
The numbers "11:11" appears repeatedly throughout the movie. The Bible verse, Jeremiah 11:11 appears on a sign held by a homeless man in the beginning of the film. The numbers appear again as the score of a basketball game Gabe is watching, and again when Adelaide puts her children to sleep.
The Bible verse is not quoted in the film, but a little research will show that it is accurately creepy:
"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 verse describes a God that will turn on whomever wants to turn on him first. As Inverse points out, it's about God's punishment of the Jews after the fall of Babylon. As Reddit user Wanderbag noted, the "evil" that will rain down is either the Tethered or the suffering they had to endure.
7. "I Got 5 On It"
From the moment the trailer came out, it spooked even long-time fans of "I Got 5 On It" by Luniz because of the new creepy arrangement. But, as Twitter user @LaReignStorm pointed out back in December, in the scene where it first appears, Adelaide is off beat when she's trying to show Jason how to snap on the beat. This is almost certainly pointing to the fact that she's a Tethered — she's slightly off beat, just like her character.
Also the song is about splitting a bag of weed, according to Yahoo Entertainment. There's that theme of duality again; two sides to one whole.
8. Hands Across America
Hands Across America, seen advertised on TV in the opening scene, and referenced multiple times throughout the film, was a real 1986 campaign that asked people to come together and form a human chain across the United States. As Esquire's Tyler Coates pointed out, the campaign was originally an effort that was trying to raise awareness for homelessness, hunger, and all human suffering in the world. But, Coates argued that in the final frame of the film, "Peele reframes the awareness campaign to show that Americans often turn a blind eye to the social ills that exists—quite literally—just below our country's surface."
The Tethered were a forgotten experiment, cloned for some unknown purpose by an unknown person or agency. In the world of Us, when you're enjoying yourself, someone is always suffering because of it. The real world, some might argue, isn't all that different.
9. Us vs. U.S.
In an interview with Yahoo Entertainment, Peele revealed that the title of the film itself has a double meaning. "There’s a double meaning to everything. Look, this movie’s about duality, and there’s no choice that I’m not trying to layer," he said. The director explained:
"Yeah, the state of this country inspired me. We’re a country that is afraid of the outsider. We’re afraid of the other, whether it’s within our borders or outside of our borders. And I think when we fail to point a finger inward, we’re capable of really messing up in big ways.”
So even though the title is Us, it also could be "U.S." as in the United States. This is also hinted at in the film, when, asked who they are, Red responds, "We're Americans."
Us is definitely a movie that needs quite a few repeat viewings if you want a chance at finding all the hidden Easter eggs, or even if you just want to understand what the movie really means. These theories and details are truly just the beginning.