Final Girl Friday: Lupita Nyong’o Cut Through Conventions in Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’

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This month, Decider is going to celebrate Halloween by honoring horror movies, and in particular, the characters who manage to outlast, outsmart, and outrun the baddies: the Final Girls. In the past, we’ve highlighted the iconic “Final Girls.” Characters like Laurie Strode and Sidney Prescott; the ones who survived the odds to inspire generations of horror nerds. This time, though, we’re going to look at the modern horror muses who are subverting and reinventing the genre with their performances.

This week’s Final Girl is Lupita Nyong’o.

NOTE: spoilers for Us ahead!

THE FINAL GIRL:

Lupita Nyong’o as Adelaide Wilson in Jordan Peele’s Us. Adelaide is a loving wife and mother who finds herself desperately protecting her family from the invasion of the “Tethered,” a macabre army of lookalikes who unleash mayhem across America.

THE KILLER SHE EVADED:

Heh, about that… Throughout the course of Jordan Peel’s Us, we are led to believe that all the characters are being hunted, murdered and replaced by the “Tethered.” These “monsters” are clones of every person in the world who have spent their lives trapped in a vast underground series of halls. Now, they want to live in the light.

However, it seems that Adelaide knows more about the Tethered than she initially is letting on…

WHY SHE SLAYS:

Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o arguably turns in the dual performance of her career in Us. As Adelaide, she is ferociously devoted to her family, while also deeply terrified of the interlopers literally at their doorstep. As “Red,” Adelaide’s Tethered, she is a mix of terrifying and tragic. Everything Nyong’o does, from her physicality to that eerie Red voice, helps sell the wild story of Us.

Of course — being that this is a Jordan Peele horror film — Us has a haunting twist. While the film’s cold open leads us to believe Adelaide survived a run-in with her Tethered as a girl, and that’s why she’s so preternaturally aware of the threat they pose, that’s not the case. Adelaide has been her own Tethered this whole time. As a child, the two Adelaides switched places. Red is the “real” Adelaide and she used her knowledge of the above-ground world to radicalize the Tethered below.

Ultimately, Adelaide must destroy Red in order to save her own family. The final battle is balletic, disturbing, and ultimately reveals Adelaide’s true nature to her son. That Nyong’o pulled off this hypnotic double-hander is pure magic.



HER BEST MOMENT:

The moment in Us that no one will ever be able to forget is when Red reveals her voice to the Wilsons — and the audience. Her hoarseness speaks volumes to the physical and emotional pain that she’s been through and seethes with the promise of a threat to come.

Nyong’o is terrifying in this scene. So much so, she literally scares herself.

Where to stream Us (2019)

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