Jordan Peele really just made me have a nightmare from just seeing the trailer for Us. I’m going to explain how and why but first you need to know some things about me.
I am a horror fan who comes from 4 generations of horror fans. My parents took me to the movies to see John Carpenter’s The Thing, Aliens, American Werewolf in London, David Cronenberg’s The Fly etc. I was shown the original The Thing From Another World and The Fly as well as a child. Thanks to video stores I could name hundreds of other horror movies I’ve seen and loved.
Here are some I picked out from the video store just based on the covers.
My mother grew up watching Dark Shadows and Hammer Horror Movies from the 1960’s. My Grandmother told me about how her mother took her to double features of the original Universal Monster Movies. The first time I saw Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I watched it on cable with my Grandmother. The last movie I remember watching with my Grandfather before he passed was Saw. He said, “That was a dang good movie.” Horror is in my blood.
As I grew up I went through many phases of horror fandom. As a child I was fascinated with supernatural horror. In middle school I fell in love with the slasher genre. In high school I developed a love for gore and body horror (I had a nice collection of Fangoria and Gorezone posters too), and in college I discovered extreme horror. As an adult, I still love all these genres and more.
If I heard a movie is the most extreme horror movie that will rock your world! – Challenge excepted! Cannibal Holowhat? A Serbian who? Insert any weird Japanese film here and I’ve seen it. That’s play play stuff to me now. Been there done that. To date the only film that really had me messed up for a week was Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs. I spoke about it extensively in this video.
So as you can see, I’m no horror novice. I have seen some pretty good trailers. I’ve seen trailers that were better than the actual movie, like the one for The Gallows. The teaser was so much better than what we got for a movie.
I’ve seen some downright creepy trailers, that stick with you for days. Goodnight Mommy comes to mind. This trailer had Twitter lit for a day or two.
Some trailers (technically TV spots) have creeped me out so much as a child that I closed my eyes and covered my ears when they came on. Remember this? Freddy is old hat now, but he was scary af when we first saw him in 1984!
However, I have never had a nightmare from seeing a trailer before. I once had a dream when I was 14 about Freddy Krueger chasing me, but I hit him with a shovel and it was more of a comical dream than a nightmare. That was after watching 5 Nightmare on Elm Street movies, though.
For the first time in my life I had a nightmare after seeing the trailer for Us. A trailer! In my nightmare I was being chased by my doppelgänger. Her hair was unkempt, her posture was slumped so much so as to appear shorter than me, and she moved in an unnaturally animalistic way.
Sometimes I could see her face and sometimes she had a mask on like the one the son had on in the trailer. She was dressed in a hospital gown. I have been hospitalized multiple times in life so this was particularly jarring. She kept popping up and trying to grab me no matter where I ran. I had to literally fight her to get away.
When I woke up the next day, I was shook! I am now a grown woman who is looking away and muting the TV every time the TV spots pop up. Jordan still keeps getting me with the promos before YouTube videos though.
Why does this trailer bother me so much? I think it is because the look of the doppelgängers is off slightly. They don’t have eyebrows, the skin looks less warm, just a bit too grey. The eyes look odd. I don’t know if the iris’s are just a pinch too small, the whites of the eyes are too white, there is too much white around the eyes or some other minor tweek.
Small changes that seem just a little off can be more unsettling than large overt differences. This is why Reagan in the Exorcist is scarier to me than Darkness in Legend.
I still haven’t fully unpacked why this trailer affects me in this way. I do know that the teenage daughter’s doppelgänger is the most unsettling to me at this time. Her face makes my stomach tense up. Maybe I need to look up doppelgänger and changling mythology.
At any rate, well-played Mr. Jordan Peele you have successfully freaked out a lifelong horror fan. Will I still be going to see Us? Challenge Accepted!
BTW, here are my thoughts after I watched the trailer, but before I went to sleep that night.