And after all, we’re only ordinary men…
Well, that’s how the old Pink Floyd/Roger Water’s song goes but after watching Jordan Peele’s extraordinary horror SF movie US, I’d say Peele has succeeded writing nothing less than a stark allegory of the rise of modern fascism in America.
Where to start? The depiction of the horror of the emerging enemy within is brilliantly wrapped up in all the tropes of what seems to be the standard American horror movie.
We’ve got the family on holidays. Check. We’ve got the dopey dad, the smart kids. Double check. Peele even gives us a real carny hall of mirrors. Check.
So far so ordinary.
It’s not till the doppelgänger family appear holding hands at the top of the holiday home driveway that the real frights and realisations start to stack up.
The final scene of the movie, the camera soaring like an eagle over the fields and mountains of America until, finally, we can see the blood soaked, red garbed ‘others’ joining hands from sea to shining sea. The great, red wall finally realised.
Us and Them.
It’s a homage of that wonderful opening shot of The Shining, as Jack Nicholson drives his family to a different kind of horror at the Overlook Hotel, except in Peele’s vision America itself is the Overlook Hotel and there is no escape.
You can check out anytime you like but you can never leave.
So what to make of this? The perfect creative distillation for the anger and split personality that fuels our modern western nightmares from Brexit to MAGA? The murderous other, hiding beneath civil discourse in a parallel America of failed experiments, breeding literally like the rabbits they devour as a food source.
One of them for each of us.
This is a parable for our outraged times when no-one can be simply right or wrong any longer but must be absolutely destroyed for wrong think. The internet outrage machine has already forced Lupita Nyong to apologise for basing her perfect and eerie Dopplerganger’s voice on the condition spasmodic dysphonia. I would think someone bred without a soul in a subterranean shadow mall existing on a diet of raw bunny would have some sort of trouble vocalising anything…
…but we live in a time of anger and outrage can always be found somewhere in the Twitterverse or on the interwebs.
A bit like this film really. The outrage is within us all, waiting to burst through in bloody, pointed mayhem.
Or perhaps you disagree?