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Phil Mellows is a freelance journalist living in Brighton




Directed by Jordan Peele (2019)

Down below, where they keep all the rabbits, America has, for some reason, created a shadow population which will one day rise to the surface and take over. Like today, when the Wilson family have foolishly chosen to take a trip to the beach.

Little Jason (Evan Alex) is wearing his Jaws T-shirt, one of the many knowing and witty film references strewn throughout Us, a comic horror for the Trump era.

The danger is not going to lurch out of the sea this time, but you’ve got to be worried about the fairground and the forest. All the usual nightmare locations are covered.

In the opening fairground flashback scene, youngAdelaide (Madison Curry) who will become Jason’s mum, is wearing a Michael Jackson Thriller T-shirt as she wanders out of a symbolic storm into a hall of mirrors where, it promises, you will ‘find yourself’.

She finds her subterranean doppelganger, dressed exactly like her.

No, the science fiction of Us doesn’t really make sense. Why/how the same clothes? If all those rabbits down there are a food source, what do they feed the rabbits on?

But it doesn’t matter. Jordan Peele has crafted apolitical allegory, as disturbing as it’s fun,in which we’re invited to take a hard look in the mirror.

“Who are you?” grown-up Adelaide(Lupita Nyong’o) asks when the shadow Wilsons emerge from the pines, dressed in red Guantanamo-style overalls, wearing one glove and armed with scissors (which are both one blade and two).

“We’re Americans,” croaks Red, her double. Even the film’s title is a play on the US.

It’s Gabe Wilson (Winston Duke) who strikes first, confronting the uninvited visitors with a baseball bat. And as they battle the trespassersthe Wilsons and their holiday home neighbours the Tylers, led by the already monstrous Kitty (Elisabeth Moss) and her obnoxious daughters, turn out at least as ruthlessly brutal, when push comes to shove, as their zombie-like other selves.

But then zombies have always been fair game. As havestupid house-breakers. In a momentary crisis of conscience Adelaide urges her besieged family not to behave like it’s Home Alone.

“What’s Home Alone?” asks teenage daughter Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph). Well, Zora, it’s achildren’s film whose sickening graphic violence isjustified by the fact that it’s meted out in defence of property rights.

The filmopens in 1986 with the telly advertising Hands Across America, a true-life charity event in which 6.5 million people formed a human chain across the continent. It cost so much to organise that the homeless who were supposed to benefit hardly got a cent.

Us is their revenge.

April 3, 2019

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