This article aims to break down the foreshadowing found in Us. Major spoilers will be filled throughout, so if you have not seen Us and wish to avoid spoilers here is your SPOILER ALERT warning.
It’s tempting not to over-analyze every single aspect of Jordan Peele’s Us. Peele’s directorial debut Get Out was so jam-packed with symbolism and themes that it only makes sense that his second film would inspire analysis. As badly as I wanted to consult other online articles for analysis on Us, I did not because I wanted to watch the film and pick out stuff myself. After 3 viewings, I still have some questions regarding plot elements. I wonder if Peele had a longer script that went into greater detail on the origins of the tethered. If he did, it doesn’t matter because we’re only left with Red’s explanation late in the film. In spite of my remaining confusion, I do recognize Us as a masterclass in horror foreshadowing.
Some of the foreshadowing is more overt while other instances are more hidden. Also, some of these could be a result of extreme over-analyzing on my part. Regardless, here are the instances of foreshadowing I found in Us after watching it 3 times:
Hands Across America
This one is pretty obvious. The commercial seen at the beginning for the 1986 “Hands Across America” initiative incorporates the method of linking hands together across the country. The tethered form a similar human chain later in the film and the real Adelaide probably got the idea from this commercial.
Adelaide Has a Thing for Red Early On
I’ll get one of my possible over-analyzations out of the way early. Those who have seen Us know that the Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) we see interacting with the rest of the Wilson family is actually the original tethered version of Adelaide. The tethered link up together wearing red jumpsuits, one of the longest-lasting images from the film. Adelaide eats a candy apple (or regular apple?) as she wanders off. Early on, as the Wilson family arrives to their beach house Adelaide is nibbling on a strawberry. Adelaide’s “tethered” self is named Red. Is this a mere coincidence or was Jordan Peele throwing in an early hint?
Adelaide is Apprehensive about Going to the Beach
Now this one is pretty subtle and would definitely take 2 viewings for most viewers to notice. I first thought Adelaide was apprehensive because of her post-traumatic stress disorder associated with her fatal encounter at the start of the film. Each subsequent viewing makes it pretty clear that she probably feared running into the real Adelaide.
It’s Never Too Early to Read Up on Conspiracy Theories
Zora Wilson clues the family in on a cool anecdote that flouride in the beach water is used by the government to control minds. While this isn’t clear foreshadowing, it prepares the viewer for the later revelation that the tethered are part of a failed government experiment designed to control people.
Socializing Ain’t Easy
Adelaide tells her wealthy acquaintance Kitty (Elisabeth Moss) that she has a hard time talking. The tethered don’t really speak, in fact Red is the only one who does! This is one of the more overt uses in my opinion.
Adelaide Basically Tells Gabe to Shut Up because She Knows Why the Tethered Have Arrived
Gabe was trying his best to defend his family, but unfortunately his efforts were futile (at least when the tethered first appeared). Adelaide knows the arrival of the tethered (particularly Red) is the very thing she feared. During my 3rd watch, her incessant pleas of “Gabe…” were clear signals that she knew they desired a lot more than money or material possessions.
The “Tethered” Adelaide Gets a Close-Up while the “real” Adelaide Stands in the Shadows
When Red finally reveals to Adelaide the origin of the tethered, her face is right up on the camera. We get a clear look at her and a less clear view of Adelaide standing away from her, ready to strike and save her son Jason.
I’m sure I’ll want to over-analyze Us when I eventually watch it again. I’m also sure that any future projects from Jordan Peele will inspire similar analysis. I welcome this new upcoming icon in the horror genre and can’t wait to obsess over the plot for his next film.