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The most important detail of the Us trailer might be hiding in plain sight

After months of anticipation, the trailer for Jordan Peele's sophomore directorial effort Us finally arrived on Christmas Day to scare the ugly sweaters off of everyone. Fans immediately took to social media to parse over every detail, but there's one that they may have overlooked — one that's hiding in plain sight, and may actually hold the key to the movie's theme.

To begin, a brief rundown: the trailer opens with a family heading off down the road for a relaxing vacation, with Mom and Dad (Lupita Nyong'O and Winston Duke from Black Panther) engaging in some playful banter with their young son and daughter over their father's choice of music. They meet up with another couple for "vodka o'clock" on the beach, and we get a glimpse of the sinister goings-on to follow when the son spots a mysterious figure in the distance, fresh blood dripping from his or her fingertips. 

They then retire to their vacation home for the evening, and things abruptly take a spooky turn when a quartet of mysterious figures appears at the end of the driveway. Dad goes to investigate, offering to "get crazy" with a baseball bat, but the creepy foursome succeed in gaining entry to the house — whereupon it's revealed that they are apparently evil dopplegangers of the entire family ("It's us," the young boy deadpans), and the spot quickly descends into a whirlwind collage of intensely frightening imagery (and one blood-curdling laugh).

The spot is full-on terrifying, and we here at Looper have had it stuck in our heads since that fateful Christmas morning. Peele has gone on record saying that, unlike his 2017 masterpiece Get Out, this latest effort will not be "about race," but will focus on the simple but compelling idea that "we are our own worst enemies," an idea that the trailer illustrates in quite literal fashion. But we've become convinced that there is an extra layer to Peele's assertion, one that has to do specifically with the song featured throughout — the '90s rap classic "I Got 5 On It" by the Luniz. 

It's the tune playing on the car stereo in the aforementioned opening sequence, and as the spot progresses, it morphs into a strange and unsettling remix, one that reveals dimensions of spookiness to the song that even the most die-hard rap fans never knew it possessed. This is an ingenious aesthetic choice; much like the family's vacation, it's a lighthearted, laid back selection that undergoes a bizarre transformation as the trailer ramps up the weirdness, becoming something alien, threatening, and altogether unlike the version with which we are familiar. But this could have been accomplished with any number of songs, and Peele is a filmmaker who makes no arbitrary choices. It's our belief that the tune's transformation is meant to mirror something else, something which likewise begins with fun and good times before becoming something much more dark and perverse — the horrifying downward spiral of drug addiction.

For evidence, let's take a closer look at the family's conversation about the song during their road trip. The father proclaims it "a classic," prompting his young son to puzzle over its meaning. "It's about drugs," his sister offers helpfully, earning a rebuke from Dad: "It's not about drugs. It's a dope song. Don't do drugs!" 

Dad is, to put it bluntly, lying. "I Got 5 On It" is clearly about drugs, and Dad's dishonesty may not be as benign as it seems. Once the family hits the beach, the spot goes out of its way to point out the involvement of alcohol — the most socially accepted drug there is, despite it being one of the most dangerous — and the boy's spotting of the lone figure on the beach is plainly a sign of serious trouble to come, trouble to which the boy's parents (like most budding addicts) are oblivious.

Once the creepy doubles show up, that trouble begins in earnest. They seem to be there to punish the family for something — but for what? We're not given any hint of the parents' past, which may very well be a deliberate choice on Peele's part. The dopplegangers are like funhouse mirror, Bizarro versions of the family, almost unrecognizable (indeed, it takes an up-close-and-personal look for the family to recognize them for what they are). They're violent, destructive, and — like the specter of addiction itself — they threaten the safety and well-being of not only the parents, but their innocent children as well.

Seen through this lens, Peele's "our own worst enemies" statement takes on a whole new meaning. It seems a little too on-the-nose of a descriptor for a story about evil clones, but it's not, at all — because Us is no more a simple supernatural horror tale than Get Out. It's a complex allegory about the inevitable, life-destroying effects of addiction, a social issue that is in no way "about race," but which has devastating effects on individuals from all backgrounds and walks of life, and on society as a whole.

This, dear reader, is our expert analysis. We might be wrong, but if we are, we will gladly eat our hats with a nice glass of Chardonnay… or, now that we think about it, maybe just some juice. Us will be the second of at least four planned "social thrillers" from the mind of Peele, who is well on his way to establishing himself as one of the most original and masterful horror filmmakers of our generation. To examine the story of Us, as sketched out in the trailer, using only what appears on its surface would be folly. Like his debut feature, this film will spark profound discussion, prompt us to ask difficult questions, and make us face our demons — literally and figuratively. In a year packed to the brim with potential horror classics, we feel safe in predicting that it will prove to be a cut above the rest.

Us hits screens on March 15, 2019.