Follow TV Tropes

Following

Film / Us

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/us.jpg
"They look exactly like us. They think like us. They know where we are."
Adelaide Wilson
Advertisement:

Us is a 2019 horror film written and directed by Jordan Peele, and his second cinematic production after 2017's Get Out.

Married couple Adelaide and Gabe Wilson (Lupita Nyong'o and Winston Duke) decide to take their children to a beach house to unplug and unwind with their family friends, the Tylers (Elisabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker). Unfortunately, some uninvited guests come and turn the situation from serenity to chaos.

Previews: Trailer (preview), Super Bowl TV spot.


Advertisement:

Us contains examples of:

  • The '80s: The prologue of the film is set in 1986.
  • Absurdly Ineffective Barricade: Really, the only things keeping the Tethered from escaping to the surface were a combination of their lack of motivation and an escalator that only goes down.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: The scissors the Tethered use have unusually sharp points. Umbrae manages to pierce through a car window and windshield with one despite having the same teenage physique as Zora.
  • Adult Fear:
    • The fear of your daughter being traumatized and struck mute, the fear of your son wandering off on the beach...
    • Fear of home intruders breaking into your house and harming your family.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The Tethered's whole tactic, especially as it's implied they can guess with a great deal of accuracy what their victims will do before they do it, so the Tylers' doubles are able to break silently into their home. Proven to Adelaide when the Tethered leave her car in the road they are using to escape before they take it.
  • Advertisement:
  • The Alleged Car: Gabe's boat is older and prone to stalling out, far less impressive than he thinks it is. Its unreliability comes into play when Gabe is fighting Abraham.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: To younger viewers and non-Americans watching the film, it seems like the "Hands Across America" commercial in the prologue was some kind of Retraux throwback to charity drives in the 1980s due to how impractical pulling that sort of thing off would be. Except that the drive was something that actually happened in real life.
  • Always Someone Better: The main dynamic between the middle-class Wilsons and the richer, but not happier, Tylers.
  • Ambiguous Ending: The Wilsons kill their doppelgangers and escape Santa Cruz alive and for the most part healthy. However, the audience and apparently Jason know that Adelaide is actually the doppelganger of the original Adelaide, who we knew the entire movie as Red. In response to Jason's glare, Adelaide just smiles. And the rest of the US seems to be in shambles as the final shot is of the countryside with a long line of doppelgangers holding hands, with smoke seen rising in the distance.
  • Ambiguously Evil: With the reveal that Adelaide was actually the doppelganger all along, with Red being the original Adelaide who was forced by doppelganger Adelaide to live underground, we don't really know what is going on in Adelaide's mind at the end. As they drive away from Santa Cruz, Jason is seen glaring at Adelaide, implying that he learned the truth from Red after being taken underground. Adelaide just gives him a small smile then returns to driving the car. One presumes that she genuinely does love her family, but the fact remains that she still as a child replaced her real self then later killed her "real" self. And the cackle she gives after doing it...
  • Ambiguously Human: The Tethered; a group of red suit-wearing doppelgangers who live underground that are obsessed with killing and replacing their overworld/real counterpart. They are failed clones created by the government and they are spiritually connected to their originals.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Just how many of the Tethered are there. The ending reveals it is a lot, but as they are a government experiment, the scope is unlikely to have involved everyone. Then again...
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Gabe shows shades of this when he gleefully shows off his new boat to the (unimpressed) family.
  • And I Must Scream: Generations of Tethered have lived their entire lives underground, unable to make any real choices for themselves as they are forced to mimic whatever the person they're a duplicate of is doing above ground without ever being able communicate their suffering.
  • Animal Motifs: Rabbits. There’s one on Zora’s shirt when Gabe is showing off his new boat, her green sweatshirt has the Vietnamese word for rabbit on it ("thỏ") and they're a staple food of the Tethered.
  • Anti-Villain: The Tethered are sentient beings who are sick of being stuck in abysmal conditions underground, and want to kill their counterparts so they can live outside the complex and stop being forced to mimic their actions.
  • Apocalypse How: Class 0. Everywhere outside of America is implied to be fine, but everyone inside of America is being chased by evil replicas of themselves. The result is cities like Santa Cruz apparently left deserted. Also mitigated a little in that news stations are still on the air and several news helicopters can be seen at the very end, and the reason Santa Cruz is deserted is because it housed a massive facility full of Tethered and was a ground zero for the attack, so some cities are likely better off than others.
  • Arc Number: 11, which resembles two identical bodies. A variant, 11:11, also represents families of four.
  • Arc Words: "Find yourself."
  • Artistic License – Biology: The Tethered subsisted entirely on raw rabbits. It's not possible for humans to do so because rabbit meat is so exceptionally lean. Eating too much of it will lead to protein poisoning, which is also called "rabbit starvation" for good reason.
  • Artificial Stupidity: An In-Universe example. Kitty is killed when she tries to get her digital assistant Ophelia to call the police, only for the stupid thing to start playing a song called "Fuck tha Police.”
  • Asshole Victims: Though they didn't really deserve to die, the Tyler family, especially Josh and the twins, don't do much to earn the audience's sympathies before they are killed by their doppelgangers. Kitty is the only actually sympathetic one, and she is still pretty shallow.
  • As the Good Book Says...: The guy in the Boardwalk holds a sign reading "Jeremiah 11:11.” And it is a scripture with quite the Foreshadowing ("Therefore thus says the Lord, 'Behold I am bringing disaster and suffering on them which they will not be able to escape; though they cry to Me, I will not listen to them.'").
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Played with. Adelaide's Tethered succeeds in killing her original and escaping with her entire family still intact (if a bit bloodied), but how bad she really is is up for debate, since Adelaide’s doppelgänger is who we’ve been watching furiously defend her family for the entire film, having switched places with the real Adelaide when she was a child.
  • Badass Family: The Wilsons, who manage to kill their Tethered counterparts.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Done twice in the fight between Gabe and Tex: at first, it seems that Dahlia, in overhearing the fight, "screams" in despair over the horror and the belief that Tex is being killed, and then begins to "laugh,” knowing full well what he's going to accomplish. Then, although by his cries of pain, we are lead to believe that Gabe is on the losing end of the fight (especially after misfiring the flare gun). We then see him limp out as the living victor.
  • Batter Up!: Gabe attempts to intimidate the Tethered versions of his family with a baseball bat, only for his counterpart to end up with it.
  • Battle Couple: Despite how dangerous and surreal their situation is, Adelaide and Gabe will do whatever it takes to keep their children safe.
  • Bilingual Bonus: At one point, Zora wears a shirt that says "thỏ" - "rabbit" in Vietnamese.
  • Beard of Evil: Gabe's Tethered counterpart has a much larger beard than Gabe himself.
  • Black Comedy: A lot of it, but a big moment would be when Kitty, bleeding out of her neck from getting stabbed, is crawling across the floor, and tries to get their voice-activated system to call the police, the system misunderstands and plays "Fuck tha Police" by NWA instead. She is killed moments later.
  • Bland-Name Product: The Tylers' smart home is managed by a digital assistant called Ophelia, which is as likely as an Amazon Echo/Alexa to misunderstand what you're saying.
  • Bloody Horror: This movie doesn't get its scares from its gore, but there's still plenty of blood, particularly when the Tylers are murdered.
  • Body-Count Competition: It's briefly brought up near the end of the second act when Zora thinks she has the lead against the Tethered. By the end of the film, the Wilsons are literally and symbolically tied at two kills each.
  • Book-Ends: Adelaide whistles The Itsy Bitsy Spider right before she and her doppleganger meet for the first time as children. She whistles it again as Red right before "our" Adelaide strangles her to death as adults.
  • Bunnies for Cuteness: Subverted generally, as the rabbits are shown in deeply sinister circumstances. However, played straight at the end, when Jason is shown taking one of the rabbits with him and stroking it. Unless, of course, this is all a case of History Repeats.
  • Changeling Tale: Russell and Rayne Thomas never learn that their daughter was replaced by a doppelganger at some point in her life and raised her as normal.
  • Chekhov's Gag: The boat with the less-than-stellar engine Gabe buys, which he uses to kill Abraham.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Played with as Josh mentions the flare gun on his boat. When Gabe gets onto the boat with Tex chasing him, he finds the flare gun and attempts to shoot Tex with it. It just bounces off the doorway next to Tex, and Gabe is forced to beat him to death by hand.
  • Chekhov's News: A young Adelaide watches a "Hands Across America" commercial in the very first scene of the film. In the present, the Tethered's goals are to murder their surface selves and form a human chain stretching from the West to the East Coasts of the United States. In fact, it was Adelaide who suggested it; the commercial was among her last memories in the surface before she was forced to live underground.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Whenever they are face to face, Pluto always mimics Jason's movements. Jason uses this to his advantage when Pluto attempts to set the Wilsons' car on fire by walking backwards, forcing him into a nearby car fire where he perishes.
  • Cloning Blues: The Tethered are not happy about being discarded copies.
  • Comically Missing the Point: After hearing Red's Motive Rant, Gabe is under the impression that the Tethered want their money or property.
  • Confronting Your Imposter: Inverted with the Tethered, who decide to go after the originals. Except Red, who is the real Adelaide who was replaced by her copy. And played straight in that all the Wilson family copies are killed by the originals - see Killing Your Alternate Self, below.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: At the end, Red comments the whole mess could have been avoided and they could have been sisters if Adelaide chose to come with her to meet her parents instead of knocked her out and switched places with her.
  • Creepy Child: Pluto and Umbrae, the Tethered versions of Jason and Zora. We also see a younger version of Red, Adelaide's doppelganger, in the movie's first scene.
  • Creepy Twins: Io and Nix, the Tethered versions of Becca and Lindsey.
  • Creepy Shadowed Undereyes: One shot shows the Tethered version of Zora turning toward the camera while sporting these.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Red says that the above-ground Tethered did this by living happy lives. But it's much more literal in that this is literally what Adelaide did: she kidnapped her original and imprisoned her below-ground, thus leaving a Dark Messiah.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Gabe seems like your typical corny joke-telling and goofy dad, but he still manages to single-handedly kill both his and Josh's doppelgangers and ultimately survives the film. And with a broken knee, to boot.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: The Tethered versions of Gabe (ripped apart by a motorboat's engine) and Zora (thrown at high speed from a braking car, which impales her into a tree and basically breaks her body in half).
  • Dance of Despair: Not Adelaide's, but Red's mirror dance in the underworld appears to be this, as one of the few organic expressions of her trauma at being switched with her Tethered, and it's the only way the Tethered can tell that she's "different".
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Adelaide was traumatized as a child by her encounter with her Tethered. As it turns out, her Tethered has one too; the one we see for most of the movie isn't the real Adelaide, who was switched with her Tethered in the hall of mirrors and went mad in the underground society.
  • Dark Messiah: Red to the Tethered, chosen because she is not a clone like them.
  • Dark Reprise: The trailer begins with a diegetic playing of Luniz' "I Got 5 on It." As it progresses, the song is substituted for a darker, string-led horror version. Both versions — the regular in the scene from the trailer and the Tylers' abandoned home, and the variant as Red and Adelaide duel — show up in the film proper.
  • Deadline News: When the Wilsons are at the Tylers' house after having defeated their Tethered, they turn the TV on to try to understand what's going on. There's live coverage of a Tethered attack downtown, and suddenly one of the Tethered comes out of nowhere and starts walking menacingly towards the camera, presumably manned by his "original." The scene switches from the TV feed to the Wilsons on the couch, with Adelaide turning the audio off so that her children won't hear the cameraman's screaming (though why she didn't just switch the TV off is anyone's guess).
  • Death of a Child: Umbrae and Pluto are killed off quite gruesomely; Umbrae is thrown from a moving car, breaks her back hitting a tree, and dies slowly, while Pluto is burned alive. Becca and Lindsey are also killed in front of their parents.
  • Daylight Horror: Several of the most horrifying scenes take place in sunshine.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: In the 1986, the attraction housing the hall of mirrors has a hokey Native American theme. By the modern day, it's been converted to an equally hokey but less culturally offensive "Merlin the wizard" theme.
  • Dissonant Serenity: After the initial shock of battling the Tethered wears off, the Wilsons harden to the situation rather quickly with the exception of Adelaide herself who only gets more and more stressed in the film's second and third act with very good reason. The Tethered themselves also completely embody this trope.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Red's description of her life — no freedom, no joy, forced to marry a man she didn't love and bear children she didn't want — brings to mind the horrors of American slavery, such as forced marriage and forced breeding.
  • Double-Meaning Title: "Us" both refers to the horrifying "Tethered," who look like replicas of the main characters, and the United States; at one point, Red says "We're Americans". Even the film's theme is titled "Anthem".
  • Dumb Blonde: Mrs. Tyler is set up to be this. Ironically, she comes the closest to actually keeping her family from getting killed by the Tethered.
  • Dumb Muscle: Abraham and Tex serve as this, slowly lumbering towards their targets without much in the way of strategy.
  • The Ending Changes Everything: The fact that Adelaide is a Tethered throws a lot of what Red says about Tethered being emotionless, soulless copies into doubt, as well as whether or not they're justified in wanting to replace their originals.
  • Evil Doppelgänger: The Wilsons have their own set. They then discover that every person in America has one.
  • Evil Feels Good: Deconstructed. While the Tethered seem to enjoy tormenting and killing their above-ground counterparts, this is because everything that feels "good" to them feels horrible to their Tethered, and vice versa.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Apart from the prologue and Adelaide's flashbacks, the film takes place over about 24 hours.
  • Facial Horror:
    • Jason's counterpart, Pluto, has burn scars that resemble the shape of the Wolfman mask that Jason wears.
    • Kitty's counterpart, Dahlia, slices her face with scissors to mimic Kitty's cosmetic surgery.
  • The Family That Slays Together: The Tethered versions of the Wilsons are set up to be this. Along with the Tylers. And possibly thousands, if not millions, of other Tethered.
  • Fantastic Racism: Adelaide views the Tethered with contempt, viewing them as nightmarish predators bent on killing their counterparts. Ironically, this segues to boomerang bigotry as the end reveals Adelaide as being a Tethered the entire time.
  • Fauxshadow: The storm in the opening, the bible quotes, and Adelaide's speech about coincidences seem to imply a biblical or apocalyptic reason for the Tethered's arrival, helped by Red's speech about seeing God's purpose for her. Nope. Besides the "soul" explanation, it's purely science fiction, and the Tethered are the result of Government experimentation.
  • Fingerless Gloves: The above poster features one of the Tethered wearing a single glove that is fingerless and also lacks knuckles. In the movie, each of the Tethered also wears a single one of these gloves on their right hand.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: Kitty asks Josh to turn off the second generator, which is unexpectedly switched on, and check if people are outside. The Tylers' Tethered versions show up not too long after and murder everybody.
  • Foreshadowing: Has its own page.
  • For Want of a Nail: Had Adelaide's father been watching her like he should have been instead of being engrossed in his carnival game, she wouldn't have wandered off, gone into the Fun House and be captured and replaced by her Tethered self.
  • Gilligan Cut: When Jason tells Adelaide and Gabe that there is a family outside on the driveway, Gabe doesn't believe him. Cut to the trio seeing the family on the driveway.
  • Golf Clubbing: Zora picks up a putter at the Tyler's home and uses it as her primary weapon of choice, most notably killing one of the Tyler twins' Tethered with it.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: After over 30 years of being trapped under ground and forced to mimic the movements of her double with no one to talk to the original Adelaide has lost much of her sanity.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Some of the more gruesome deaths are not shown in detail, such as Abraham's death by boat motor or Zora's brutal beating of one of the Tethered Tyler twins.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Subverted. At one point instead of saying "kiss my ass" to his sister, Jason says "kiss my anus" instead. This weirds out Gabe and Zora (and makes Adelaide laugh in spite of herself) and Gabe says in this particular case, he would have actually preferred "kiss my ass."
  • Government Conspiracy: The US government was engaged in human cloning and mind-control experiments on the clones in a gargantuan facility beneath Santa Cruz, California, and likely elsewhere.
  • Greater-Scope Villain:
    • The person or people that created the Tethered, implied to be a government agency of some kind. They're long gone by the time the film begins, but their creation and abuse of the Tethered is what made the events of the film possible.
    • At the climax, Red mentions an encounter she had with a "god" that inspired her to begin her crusade against non-Tethered. Assuming she wasn't speaking metaphorically, who or what this being might have been is never explained.
  • Half-Human Hybrids: The children of Red and Abraham and Adelaide and Gabe are Human-Tethered hybrids.
  • Iconic Item: Jason is always shown with a mask modeled after the Wolfman. Gabe wields a bat. When attacked by the Tethered Gabe still has his bat while Adelaide wields a fireplace poker and gold handcuff chains, Zora wields a golf club and Jason has some sort of paperweight. On the opposite end, each of the Tethered seems to wield a pair of golden scissors along with their single glove.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: A few, mostly with the scissors brandished by the Tethered, though the fire pokers used by Adelaide's family also play a part.
  • Info Dump: Near the end, Red explains that the doppelgangers were all part of a failed government experiment to control the minds of the country's citizens, but the experiment failed, so they were left to languish underground.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: Adelaide (and Red) had an affinity for whistling "Itsy Bitsy Spider" as a child, and the last thing Red does before Adelaide offs her is attempt to weakly whistle the song again.
  • Jerkass: The Wilsons' so-called friends the Tylers are not a very sympathetic family. Kitty is very shallow and self obsessed, blaming her children for being born at the wrong time for ruining what she thinks could have been her chance to be a movie star, Josh loves to flaunt his money in front of his friend Gabe and harasses Gabe for not being able to afford things as nice as him, both of the above don't really get along at all and are both alcoholics, and their Alpha Bitch twin daughters are both rather cruel, insulting young Jason despite being older teenagers. It means the audience probably won't feel too bad when their dopplegangers suddenly kill them.
  • Karma Houdini: Adelaide successfully managed to replace — and later, kill — her normal counterpart and faces no repercussions from it other than it being implied that Red tells Jason the truth before dying.
  • Killing Your Alternate Self: The Tethered's whole plan. And the Wilsons end up killing their copies: Gabe turns on a boat engine on his, Zora brakes a car and throws her copy which hangs from the windshield away, Jason makes his walk into a fire, and Adelaide impales Red. Or is it the other way around...]
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The US Government created the Tethered in an attempt to mind control its citizens, only for the Tethered to develop free will themselves. They then proceeded to throw the Tethered into abysmal living conditions and forget about them, only for the Tethered to escape and overthrow the government in the process of claiming the lives they feel should be theirs.
  • Lazy Husband: Josh won't check for intruders as requested by his scared wife. He manages to claim to be busy while doing nothing but having a drink.
  • Little Useless Gun: Gabe triumphantly pulls out a flare gun when facing Tex, Josh's doppelganger...only for it to miss, bounce off the wall, and sputter to the ground uselessly.
  • Made of Iron
    • The Tethered are extremely resilient. Tex shrugs off a fire poker to the brain.
    • Gabe takes a good amount of damage throughout the film, managing to survive a slash to the head by Abraham, at least a broken knee, a brutal beating from both Abraham and Tex, and being thrown into the ocean by Abraham.
    • Adelaide manages to defeat Red after receiving several wounds, then track down Jason and make her way back to the surface.
  • Mama Bear: Played straight, then possibly subverted. Adelaide is willing to go to hell and back for her children and even for Gabe, but does she want to protect them or the life she stole from the original Adelaide over 30 years earlier?
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Zora's name means "dawn." Umbrae means "shadows."
    • Jason is a character from Greek myth who starts out as heroic but did questionable stuff later on.
    • Pluto is the Roman version of Hades, who has an unsavory reputation but is nicer than the rest of the pantheon. Pluto is also a dog from classic Disney cartoons, which is a fitting name for a boy who walks on all fours and growls like a dog.
    • Gabe is short for "Gabriel." The archangel Gabriel was one of the three angels who informed Abraham of the birth of his son. Abraham was also the father of the chosen people in the Hebrew Bible, while the film's Abraham is the father of Red's family.
    • Tex Watson was one of the members of the Manson Family, responsible for the Sharon Tate murders. The Family had wanted to use the murder to kickstart a war and take over America.
    • Dahlia can possibly refer to Elizabeth Short, nicknamed the Black Dahlia, who was murdered and bisected at the waist (fitting for the movie's theme of duality/doubles).
    • And Red is the color of blood. The fact that Adelaide has a less esoterically named Tethered than the rest of her family - or the rest of the Tethered altogether - may be a hint at The Reveal.
  • Mercy Lead: Red tells Zora to run, giving her an approximate thirty-second headstart before allowing Umbrae to chase her.
  • Mirror Routine: There is a scene where Jason does this with his Tethered counterpart. This is later weaponized by Jason in a successful attempt to kill his double.
  • Mole Men: The Tethered count, as they were bred underground and are noticeably distinct from human beings.
  • Money Is Not Power: Gabe, thinking the Tethered are just burglars, tries to offer them money, his car, and boat to leave them alone. Unfortunately, the Tethered don't care about these things.
  • Mood Whiplash: The trailer opens with a bright and warm atmosphere of the Wilson family going on a fun vacation together. Then things take a dark, psychological turn when night falls and the family gets a good look at their antagonists.
  • Moody Trailer Cover Song: Luniz's "I've Got 5 On It.” An instance of this trope where the original song appears in the film itself, along with the moody variant.
  • Motive Rant: Red gives a harrowing one to the Wilsons after the Tethered corner them in the living room. Red and her family had to live without freedom, love, or material comforts, knowing that another family just like theirs enjoyed all of those things. It eventually drove them insane.
  • Nature vs. Nurture: A key theme.
    • The Government Conspiracy believes that the Tethered cannot learn to be human and are doomed by nature to be only shadows of their original selves. However, the ending, which reveals the Adelaide we've spent the movie with was secretly her Tethered version and vice versa, leans heavily towards "nurture.” Despite being born under ground, "Adelaide" is able to learn speech and attain her own agency when removed from those terrible conditions. Conversely, "Red" carries her childhood memories with her below ground and is able to both maintain the speech and self-awareness needed to inspire the revolution.
    • This is also shown in the Wilson children and their doppelgangers. All four of them are half-Tethered, but Zora and Jason turned out alright. Jason is considered a bit "weird,” but in ways that aren't too uncommon for a boy his age. By contrast, Umbrae and Pluto were raised among the Tethered by a bitter and vengeful mother who saw them as monsters, and they act accordingly.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: If you consider the original Adelaide to be more evil than the replacement, then Adelaide saved herself from a terrible situation but, in doing so, sent down a future cult leader who would return with the express goal of wiping out humanity.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: If you consider the replacement Adelaide to be more evil than the original, then the replacement Adelaide abandoned the original with the intention of taking over her life and so willingly surrendered her to a lifetime of torture. In this case, it may be Disproportionate Retribution but she's still giving a voice to the people she deliberately imprisoned.
  • Nightmare Face: All of the Tethered, but special mention goes to Pluto, Jason's double, who appears disfigured and burned.
  • Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book: Adelaide finds a crayon picture Jason drew of the man with a bloody hand at the beach.
  • No Brows: The Tethered version of Zora lacks any eyebrows.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Happens several times in the movie.
  • Once More, with Clarity!:
    • The opening credits shot of the rabbits in the cages actually takes place underground. The rabbits are the Tethered's food resources.
    • Young Adelaide meeting her Tethered in the hall of mirrors is shown again at the end of the film. The extended scene reveals that during the 15 minutes she went missing, they switched places; the Tethered forced Adelaide underground and strapped her to a bed. She then went above and took her identity.
  • Opening Scroll: The film opens with three lines of text on a black screen, explaining the creepy real-life fact that there are thousands of miles of subterranean tunnels beneath the U.S., and that many of them have no publicly known purpose.
  • Our Souls Are Different: While the American government managed to clone the human body, they couldn't clone the souls of the people they were copying. Efforts to use this to control people failed, and the abandoned Tethered were doomed to imitate the actions of their above-ground doubles in the horrific and squalid conditions of their tunnels.
  • Papa Wolf: Despite being easygoing, Gabe will mess you up when push comes to shove. Just ask Abraham and Tex.
  • Parents as People:
    • The start of the trailer has Gabe singing along to one of the songs he loved when he was younger, except now that he's a parent and the song's about smoking weed, he can't play that anymore. Fortunately, Adelaide saves it a little when she's teaching the kids to keep rhythm.
    • Adelaide's own parents. From what little we see of them, her father is implied to be emotionally distant and an alcoholic and her mother is implied to be self-centered and bossy. They also spend most of their time arguing with each other and while at the carnival, she is walking behind her parents instead of besides them. However, judging by the way Adelaide speaks about her mother, she admired and loved her very much.
  • Police are Useless: They certainly don't come around to help the Wilsons when they're dealing with a home invasion. Because they're dealing with dozens of others at the same time and are being completely overwhelmed.
  • Prim and Proper Bun: Zora wears her hair in one, and Adelaide did so as a child.
  • Production Throwback: The iconic shot from Get Out, with Chris staring wide-eyed as thin streams of tears run down his face, is replicated in the poster and echoed by one of the shots in the trailer. It happens in the film proper with Red as she gives the Wilson family a fairy tale style Motive Rant that turns out to be a thinly-veiled metaphor for her hell growing up in the tunnels.
  • Protect This House: Adelaide and Gabe attempt to do this when doppelgängers invade the house. It fails, and they ultimately have to leave the house. Later on, Gabe suggests they do this with the Tylers' house. Adelaide shoots that suggestion down.
  • Psychic Link: Somehow the Tethered are "connected" spiritually to their other selves that causes them to imitate the life and actions of their other selves and know wherever they are no matter the distance between them. This plays into Red's motives, as she was forced to marry a "brute" and give birth to "monsters,” mimicking Adelaide's happiest moments as another torture for the hell she had to live through.
  • Psychopathic Womanchild: Red is extremely violent and childlike in her behavior. She has been trapped in underground facilities since she was a child and went insane.
  • Red Right Hand: Literally. All of the Tethered have scarred right hands, which they cover with a single glove. Adelaide, despite being a Tethered, lacks the scarring, suggesting it isn't natural.
  • Red Is Violent: The Tethered's combination of red clothes and golden scissors makes that pretty clear.
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • At some point a clock displays 11:11.
    • The Tethered's weapon of choice are a pair of golden scissors. A symmetrical object made from two identical pieces bound together so they move in tandem. When held in hand point down the handles resemble two heads back to back, something illustrated in one of the posters. With which they intend to un-Tether themselves.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The Tethered's uprising has shades of this. Red's Motive Rant has a lot of class rhetoric, and the massive human chain that the Tethered form is at least partially a political statement protesting their treatment by the government.
  • Safe Zone Hope Spot: Gabe believes this of the Tylers' house, but the Tethered seem to void and deconstruct this trope, if Adelaide is right when she says that, because the Tethered think like they do, they know where they will be, and therefore no place in America is safe.
  • Screaming Warrior: Adelaide turns into this over the course of the film, ferally yelling when finishing off her attackers; this is a sign that she's not quite alright.
  • Shear Menace: The Tethered's weapons of choice are golden scissors.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Gabe and Zora are left in the dust during the film's third act when Adelaide runs off to try and rescue Jason from Red.
  • Shout-Out:
    • C.H.U.D. is one of the VHS tapes on the shelf in the prologue. Pretty apt foreshadowing, with that movie dealing with underground entities rising up to attack people on the surface.
    • Adelaide's dad wins her a Thriller shirt in the opening. It's implied that Michael Jackson's red jumpsuit and single glove helped inspire the Tethered's ubiquitous outfit, and the "Thriller" music video also ends with the reveal that Michael was a monster the whole time, much like how Us ends with the reveal that Adelaide was a Tethered the whole time.
    • Gabe mentions Home Alone when suggesting that they set up traps in the home they're staying at to fend off the Tethered.
    • The home invasion of the Tethered family begins with the original family's patriarch getting his leg broken and them getting held in the living room, just like in Funny Games (reportedly one of this film's biggest influences). Also, when Abraham plans to kill Gabe, he drives him out in his boat with a bag over his head, which also happens to a character in Funny Games.
    • After Red reveals the Tethered's plan, she states, "Now it's our time, our time up there," referencing an iconic line from the Goonies. A copy of the Goonies can even be seen next to the VHS copy of C.H.U.D..
    • The dead bodies of the twins Becca and Lindsey are positioned like the bodies of the murdered twins in The Shining.
    • Also in the opening mention is made in passing of a film being shot at the boardwalk. This would be The Lost Boys, which was filmed in Santa Cruz in 1986.
    • The Tethered are forced to live their entire lives in terrible living conditions in overcrowded underground bunkers and ultimately start a revolution against those living above ground much like the workers in Metropolis.
    • According to the credits, the young couple playing rock-paper-scissor on the Boardwalk in 1986 are named Syd and Nancy. This is likely a reference to the movie Sid And Nancy (about Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen), which was released in 1986.
  • Sickening "Crunch!": Adelaide breaking Red's neck via strangulation. And it is very loud.
  • Slashed Throat: How Kitty is ultimately dispatched.
  • Slasher Smile:
    • The Tethered version of Adelaide.
    • Likewise, the Tethered version of Zora spends every minute we see her smiling creepily.
    • The Tethered version of Kitty also sports one, especially after applying some lipstick.
  • The Speechless: The only Tethered shown to be capable of speech is Red and even she seems to have trouble with it. All the others speak animalistic howls and growls. This is because "Red" is the real Adelaide. Her strained speech is the result of permanent damage from being strangled by her clone and/or years of disuse.
  • Spoiler Title: A very mild example, but the soundtrack album contains a track titled "Death of Umbrae,” spoiling that Zora's Tethered counterpart dies at some point in the movie.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Nothing like "Good Vibrations" from The Beach Boys to play over a scene of the Tethered Tylers committing familicide. Shortly afterward, N.W.A.'s "Fuck tha Police" plays as our heroes kill the Tethered versions of the Tylers.
  • Surreal Horror: What else would you get when your family is attacked by violent, scissor wielding clones?
  • Title Drop:
    • After the house invaders finally break into the house, Jason observes them and makes a startling revelation...
      Jason: It’s us.
    • Later, Red drops the title again while telling Adelaide about their connection.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Adelaide is a Tethered and Red was the real Adelaide.
  • Tragic Monster:
    • All of the Tethered. They were abandoned by the government as a failed experiment and left underground, living in squalid conditions, carrying out a twisted form of their counterparts' lives with little choice, and eventually going insane. Arguably worse since even though Red said they're soulless, they're shown to be capable of emotion - Adelaide's doppelganger was able to adapt to life as her and having meaningful relationships, Tex and Dahlia show affection for each other, and Tex and Abraham even have some friendliness.
    • It turns out Red in particular was the original Adelaide, and the Adelaide we had been following the whole movie was the doppelganger. Red wants vengeance on Adelaide for taking everything from her.
  • Trailers Always Lie:
    • A sly example. There's a shot in the trailer of young Adelaide getting attacked by her double. The film makes allusions to Adelaide's PTSD after that incident, thus implying that the attack shown in the trailer was the cause of her disorder. It turns out that that scene wasn't just showing Adelaide getting attacked, but also replaced by her double.
    • One shot in the trailer shows tethered!Jason walking out of the fire of a burning car, as though to say he's immune to fire. That footage is actually being played in reverse, in the movie proper, he's walking backwards into the fire, copying Jason's movements. This is what ultimately kills him.
  • Trap Is the Only Option: At one point, the Wilsons need to take the Tylers' car. When Adelaide goes back into the Tyler house to get the keyfob, the it's is not in the bowl where she knows it goes, it's sitting in the kitchen out on the previously bare counter, and the doppelganger who fell onto the coffee table is missing. Adelaide clearly knows something's up, but traveling on foot is too dangerous, so she grips her poker and just tries to grab the fob as fast as possible. Sure enough, the doppelganger is alive and was using the fob as bait.
  • Twist Ending: The Adelaide we have been following was actually born Tethered, and replaced the original at the fun house in 1986.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Adelaide or rather her doppelganger, only wanted to be free above ground rather than live in hellish conditions underground. She swaps place with the "original" Adelaide, and takes her place. Original Adelaide, furious at everything that had been taken from her and the new hell she was living in, rallies all of the Tethered living underground together, and causes them all to rise up from below and find and kill their "real" counterparts all across America. Adelaide couldn't have possibly known how much would happen from that one action.
  • Vapor Trail: Played with. When the family encounters Pluto in the middle of the street, Adelaide leaves the car and tries to reason with him, at which point Jason senses a trap and gets Gabe and Zora to evacuate the car. It's at this point that we see a thick fuel trail between the car and Pluto, who's holding a match. While most examples of this trope involve malfunctioning cars spewing fuel, the Wilsons' car runs fine, and it's implied that the trail was Pluto's doing.
  • Wham Line:
    • Jason asking ”How many of everyone is there gonna be?” after finding out they are not the only ones with Tethered doubles.
    • Red telling Adelaide that she could have taken her with her that night on the beach.
  • Wham Shot:
    • The final flashback, as Adelaide remembers strangling the original Adelaide and imprisoning her underground so she could escape and live her life.
    • The line of Tethered holding hands across the country that ends the movie.
  • What Are Records?: When Gabe and Adelaide are arguing on if they should put out some Home Alone-esque traps to stop the other beings, with her saying that Micro Machines aren't going to get rid of them, Jason (understandably) doesn't know what are Micro Machines and Zora doesn't know what Home Alone is.
  • White Shirt of Death: Adelaide wears a white shirt and hoodie when the Tethered invade, which gets progressively blood-soaked as the film goes on, foreshadowing that she is a Tethered.
  • Woman in White: Adelaide in her white shirt and hoodie.
  • Women Are Wiser: All the dads do sillier things than their wives.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Zigzagged with Adelaide. While she did kill one of the Tethered Tyler twins (albeit in self-defense), she couldn't bring herself to finish off a dying Umbrae (who was critically injured after Zora violently threw her off of the car) and tried to reason with Pluto not to harm them (who ultimately died by inadvertently backing into the fire he started by mimicking Jason's actions). She even said a few Little Nos as he was doing it.
  • You Have GOT To Be Kidding Me: Zora's reaction when she learns that her dad bought a boat.

"Be careful."
Top

Example of:

/

Feedback