What Happens In ‘Us?’ The Tethered’s Plan Is So Much Creepier Than Anything You Imagined
Ever since the trailer for Us first dropped on Christmas Day like some kind of haunted gift from a menacing Santa, horror fanatics have been looking forward to visionary filmmaker Jordan Peele's follow-up to Get Out. But fans of Get Out shouldn't expect a duplicate of Peele's debut 2017 horror movie, because Us is a totally different animal. Moviegoers can, however, expect duplicates of another sort. Us is about a family that finds themselves stalked by people who look exactly like them. So what exactly happens in Us? Here's a spoiler-heavy rundown to check out, if you're too freaked out to see it in theaters. Seriously. Major, major spoilers ahead.
The opening of the movies is a flashback to 1986, when a young Adelaide Wilson (Madison Curry) wanders off of a Santa Cruz boardwalk and into a dark funhouse, subsequently bumping into her twin exact twin, Red. But most of Us takes place in present day, when Adelaide's (Lupita Nyong'o) whole family meets their creepy Tethers.
Based on the trailer — and for the first hour or so of the movie — it seems like the evil doppels might just be haunting the Wilson family, which also consists of Adelaide's husband Gabe (Winston Duke) and their kids Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex). After the Wilsons escape their first encounter with the Tethered people, you discover that their rich friends Kitty (Elisabeth Moss) and Josh Tyler (Tim Heidecker) has also been attacked by their own. Kitty, Josh, and their twin daughters don't survive the night, and the Wilsons have to fend off their Tethers as well.
Turning on the news at Kitty and Tyler's vacation home, the Wilsons discover that Tethered doppelgängers are launching attacks on all of their own doubles, then joining a human chain. At the end of the movie, Red reveals that these doppelgängers, dressed in red jumpsuits, have lived their entire lives underground — human bodies without souls — performing the exact movements the humans they're tethered to above ground would make. Only their experiences were awful and painful.
When Red first talks to the Wilsons, she explains that the Tethered ones below ground are the humans' shadows. When Adelaide would eat food, Red would also eat, but she had to eat rabbit, "raw and bloody." When Adelaide had a C-section, Red had to cut her own baby out of her stomach. Red led the shadows to plan their attack to take over the world, forming a human chain exactly like the Hands Across America campaign from 1986. Yes, the same year that the young Adelaide first encountered Red.
While everyone around them is not so lucky, the Wilsons survive their Tethers. In the last act, Adelaide goes underground to follow Red, who's taken Jason. After a fight that she at first seems to be losing, Adelaide kills Red, brutally, appearing to really enjoy it. As the family drives away, another flashback reveals that, on that fateful night in '86, the real Red incapacitated Adelaide and dragged her underground, taking her place. (Which is why "Adelaide" didn't speak for a period of time after she returned.) The real Red — the one who started off as a shadow person but became a regular person — kills the real Adelaide and gets away unscathed, along with her family. Jason, however, is looking at her suspiciously.
Us will cement Peele as a horror movie auteur, and he doesn't show signs of slowing down. On Apr. 11, Peele's reboot of The Twilight Zone premieres on CBS All Access, and the director/writer has also hinted that his film universe will be expanding too.
After the Us premiere at South x Southwest in early March, Fandango editor Erik Davis asked about a possible future for more movies set in the Us universe, and Peele responded, "I have a big story... that’s all I’m going to say," per Davis's Twitter. Perhaps Adelaide, who started off as Red, will return someday.