Jordan Peele’s directorial debut, Get Out, not only delivered a bone-chilling psychological thriller, it dissected the underlying racial oppression running through the veins of America, spearheaded conversations of societal fractures, and earned four Oscar nominations. (It would go on to win Peele the Best Original Screenplay award.) So after Peele’s killer success, what does the filmmaker do next?
“For my second feature, I wanted to create a monster mythology,” Peele tells EW. “I wanted to do something that was more firmly in the horror genre but still held on to my love of movies that are twisted but fun.”
Details are very, very vague about Peele’s upcoming film Us. The story is set in the present day and follows Adelaide and Gabe Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke) as they take their kids to Adelaide’s old childhood beachside home in Northern California for the summer. After a day at the beach with the Tyler family (which includes Elisabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker), Adelaide — who’s haunted by a lingering trauma from her past — becomes increasingly more paranoid that something bad will happen to her family. As night falls, the Wilsons see four figures holding hands and standing silently at the bottom of their driveway… (Did shivers just go up your spine?)
Peele didn’t have to give a hard sell to recruit Oscar winner Nyong’o for his leading role. “He was on my wish list of people to work with,” Nyong’o tells EW, adding that she was a huge fan of Get Out. “The very fact that I have not done anything like it was appealing, because it promised growth and excitement and new territory.”
To prepare, Peele gave Nyong’o 10 classic horror films to watch so they would have “a shared language” when filming: Dead Again, The Shining, The Babadook, It Follows, A Tale of Two Sisters, The Birds, Funny Games, Martyrs, Let the Right One In, and The Sixth Sense.
Then the filmmaker had some fun bringing Nyong’o together with her Black Panther costar and former Yale University classmate Duke to play his all-American couple. “I could see signs of them flirting online — they’re both flirts in general — you could see the couple in them who would want to be together, so the chemistry is just on,” the filmmaker says.