These Are The Horror Films Jordan Peele Thinks You Should Have Seen
The opening weekend for Jordan Peele's Us broke the record for an original horror film, taking $86.95m globally and far surpassing his Oscar-winning debut Get Out.
Whether you read the film - in which a family are confronted (and then hunted) by twisted versions of themselves - as an allegory about an increasingly divided America or just go along for fun joyride, Us cements Peele's status as an expert of the genre.
And if you were looking to get a sense of what the auteur was had in mind before shooting, Peele recently shared the list of nine films which he gave as homework for lead actress Lupita Nyong'o to prepare for the role.
Now the film's been released it's clear to see the shared themes and symbols between some of the work which inspired him. Notebook at the ready...
Kenneth Branagh directs and stars alongside his then-wife Emma Thompson in this thriller about a composer who is sentenced to death after viciously murdering his wife with a pair of scissors. The blunt instrument of death isn't the only parallel with Peele's film, as the story then picks up 40 years later when a private detective investigating the case comes across a woman with striking similarities to her.
Stanley Kubrick's seminal 1980 psychological horror is about writer Jack Torrance who takes a trip to the creepy Overlook Hotel with his family, with bloody and surreal consequences. As well as the doppelgänger theme throughout Us, there's also a pair of creepy twins in one of the families in the film. Peele even made a funny reference to The Shining when he was accused of dressing as Torrance on the press tour for Us.
A hit at Sundance Film Festival in 2014, Jennifer Kent's spooky horror has become a modern classic. In it, a bereaved mother struggles to comfort her son who is haunted by nightmares of a monster, the same creature that comes to life via a book in their house. Like Us, it has the same creeping sense of an unknown enemy and also looks at the monsters within us by exploring grief. Plus back in 2014 Peele took the time to tweet the entire plot of the film in emoji form - something that would bring joy to only a true fan.
David Robert Mitchell's timely psychological horror about a teenage girl who is followed by a supernatural creature after a sexual encounter is breathless and sinister. The film received near-universal praise for its twisting of horror conventions, something Peele too went on to do with both Get Out and Us. It also starts off from a traumatic event and spreads horror from that moment, the same path Peele treads with Adelaide's story.
A Tale of Two Sisters
In South Korean director Kim Jee-Woon's A Tale of Two Sisters, a girl returns from a mental institution to live with her sister and father where strange and frightening events plague the house. It is an interesting look at how we are mirrored in other people and understandably recommended watching for a film so concerned with doubles and doppelgängers, and where Lupita plays both herself and a version of herself. Like Us, it also features a
Having earned the title of the "modern-day Alfred Hitchcock" with the release of his second psychological horror hit, it's easy to see how parallels in both directors use of suspense. Though Rear Window, Psycho and North by North West are perhaps Hitchcock's most famous films, Peele selected The Birds as recommended viewing. In it, a woman strikes up a romance with a man after giving him a pair of love birds from a pet store. The birds go on to attack children at a party and eventually the whole town. Like Us, the result is an apocalyptic glimpse of society ending, with mass panic and burnt out cars.
Funny Games (1997)
In this Austrian horror film, two young men take a family hostage in their holiday home and force them into violent and sadistic games with each other. The Michael Haneke film has the same menacing idea of violence as
Pascal Laugier's 2008 film is one that divides audiences and critics on whether it is the greatest horror film ever made or gratuitous torture porn. In it a girl who has been imprisoned in an abattoir meets another victim of abuse in an orphanage, revealing she is being terrorized by a creature. Years later she seeks revenge for the abuse and in the process reveals the truth about what is tormenting her. In Us we see Adelaide still suffering years after a traumatic moment, as with Martyrs it lays bare how long-lasting the effects of trauma and abuse can be.
Let the Right One In
A 12-year-old boy befriends a vampire girl after being bullied in this Swedish horror film. As they become closer the girl reveals her hand in a string of gruesome murders that have plagued the area, drinking the blood of her victims. Like Peele's young Adelaide, Eli is the face of girlish innocence with darkness lurking underneath.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.