Uncanny ‘Us’: How Jordan Peele Uses Philosophy to Scare You

Uncanny ‘Us’: How Jordan Peele Uses Philosophy to Scare You
[Editor’s note: The following articles contains spoilers.]

When two people bear a striking resemblance to one another, we often call those similarities uncanny. The word is so rarely used outside that context, in fact, that we may forget its most basic definition: “seeming to have a supernatural character or origin.” For two things to have a truly uncanny resemblance, simply looking alike isn’t enough — they have to arouse discomfort for being nearly, but not entirely, identical. The more alike they are, the more unsettling their small differences become.

Jordan Peele understands that distinction, and he puts it to effective use in his second film, “Us.” A horror-thriller about a family of four confronted by their ill-intentioned doppelgängers, it brings to mind not only such genre influences as “The Twilight Zone” but also this passage from Sigmund Freud’ 1919 essay “The Uncanny”:

“The subject of the ‘uncanny’ is a province of this kind. It is undoubtedly related
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