This article originally appeared on VICE US.
After the monumental success of Get Out, Jordan Peele had a clear path laid out for a follow-up: Just crank out another socio-political allegory wrapped inside a horror movie, maybe up the gore and special effects a bit thanks to a bigger budget, and call it a day. That would've been the easiest route, another surefire win. But because Jordan Peele is Jordan Peele, instead, he made Us.
Sure, the thing is an obvious success—it's a brilliant and terrifying film that's already pulled in more than $100 million at the box office—but the movie's real strength is that it isn't just another Get Out. It's stranger and more enigmatic than its predecessor, with an ending that defies Get Out's relatively digestible takeaways. Is it saying something about class? Or mental health? Is it just some sort of opaque mirror that lets us see what we want to see in it?
Now, finally, Peele himself has weighed in on the film's final twist in an interview on the Empire podcast to shine at least a little more light on the movie's ambiguous messaging. Spoilers ahead, obviously:
This movie’s about maybe the monster is you. It’s about us, looking at ourselves as individuals and as a group. The protagonist in the movie is the surrogate for the audience, so it felt like at the end of the day, I wasn’t doing my core theme any justice if I wasn’t revealing that we have been the bad guy in this movie. We’ve been following the villain. I say 'villain' lightly because I think there are many experiences of the film, and I think a lot of people go through a question of what is good and evil? Does that even exist? Both characters are lovable and terrifying, based on the lives they’ve led they’ve just sort of inverted the paths.
Peele mostly addresses the twist where Adelaide realizes that she and Red switched places in metaphorical terms, so apologies to everyone hoping for details about who actually made the Tethered. But it's still a fascinating look into Peele's intentions. And, yes, he knows the ending is vague. That's the point.
Adelaide and Jason sharing that moment at the end, I’m purposefully leaving it a bit vague as to what exactly he knows or how far he’s come in figuring out what, if anything, he’s figured out. I think the little smile she gives him is a lot of things. I think it’s a connection to the evil smile she once had as a little girl, but also a sort of understanding that her family unit was stronger from this experience.
The whole interview is fascinating and worth a listen. It's also spoiler-filled, so if you haven't seen Us yet, for the love of God, what are you doing reading this right now? Go watch it, then come on back so we can argue about what happens to one of the Tethered when their above-ground surrogate flies in an airplane or whatever.