For most of Hollywood’s history, horror has been regarded as one of cinema’s more disreputable genres.
“It used to be one rung above porn, you weren’t really proud of it,” Evil Dead franchise star Bruce Campbell told The Pop Break website last year. “It was looked down upon. You either started your career in horror or you were ending it in horror.”
Even now, with horror as popular as it has ever been, genre fans remain hyper-alert to attempts to market horror movies as “horror-thrillers” or “elevated horror” or not really horror movies at all. Last year, writer-director Ari Aster received huge acclaim for his debut movie Hereditary but also raised eyebrows by telling Rolling Stone that he described the film as “a tragedy that curdles into a nightmare” rather than a horror film.
“I never talked about the film as ‘horror’ when we were getting it made,” he said. “That’s not because I didn’t consider it a horror film — it’s definitely that. I just wanted everybody to be on the same page as me, so I avoided these terms that I think have become very loaded.”
One person who regards his new film as very much a horror movie, however, is Jordan Peele. Over the weekend, the director tweeted that Us “is a horror movie.” In addition to showing solidarity with horror fans, Peele was likely also riffing about the fact that his previous film, the bone-chilling Get Out, was deemed to be both a “social thriller” and a comedy — or at least was nominated for Best Picture, Comedy or Musical at the Golden Globes. Peele himself reacted to that nomination by tweeting that the racially charged movie was “a documentary.”
Us 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…
Us opens March 22. Watch the trailer above.