In addition to Jeremiah 11:11 being seen written on a sign twice, the numbers 11:11 appear frequently throughout this film. When Gabe is watching a baseball game on TV, the announcer says that the game is tied 11-11. When Addie and Jason are talking in his room, the digital clock reads 11:11 pm. Also, a carnival worker in 1986 and one of the twins in the present day both wear a T-shirt for the band Black Flag, the logo of which consists of four vertical black bars that resemble the number 1111. And again at the end of the movie when the ambulance is driving down the windy back road the camera pans out and shows the ambulance number 1111 on top of it.
The Bible verse that continuously appears in the film (Jeremiah 11:11) reads: "Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them."
Like The Lost Boys (1987), several key scenes take place on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. This is even referenced in-universe, when Adelaide's mother (Anna Diop) says, "You know, they're shooting a movie over there by the carousel."
The filmmakers did not need to do much work on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, as many games and rides are originals going far back as the 1910's. Also, indeed there is an underground tunnel system under The Boardwalk, though it is mostly used for storage and as a shelter in case of any emergency. There is no hall of mirrors (as shown in the film) on the beach.
While the Wilsons are in the Tylers' house, Jason eats a bowl of dry Froot Loops. This references a scene in Jordan Peele's previous movie, Get Out (2017), in which a character eats Froot Loops and drinks milk from "segregated" glasses.
In the beginning scene where the "Hands Across America" commercial is playing, a VHS copies of C.H.U.D. and the Goonies can be seen on the shelf to the left of the TV and a copy of the Right Stuff can be seen underground. C.H.U.D is about underground creatures and the Goonies takes place primarily in underground tunnels. The Right Stuff takes place primarily above ground and in orbit.
"I Got 5 On It" by the hip-hop rap duo, Luniz, is the song featured in the Us movie trailer and remixed into several scenes in the movie. The song was released in May 1995. It was certified a platinum single (one million units sold) in October 1995. The title is a phrase meaning to pay half of a dime bag (a $10 bag of cannabis) with another person.
Jason wears a Jaws shirt for his trip to the beach. When Jason disappears on the beach to go to the bathroom there is a point where he begins to slow walk. Over his shoulder there is a distinct shadow that looks like a shark fin breaching the water.
The use of the song I Got 5 On It appears to resonate with the main theme of film. It tells of two guys each chipping in $5 to buy a $10 bag of weed, which like the scissors and the repetition of the number 11 within the film, is a combination of two things creating one whole, just like the Tethered themselves.
When Addie and Zora are talking in her room earlier in the film, one of the books on Zora's end table is entitled "They Came From Below", which foreshadows the arrival of the Tethered from the underground tunnels.
The song "Run, Rabbit, Run" is used in the opening scene of Peele's previous film, Get Out (2017). The opening credits for Us (2019) feature a wall of caged rabbits, and rabbits are a recurrent theme throughout the film.
After her father wins a boardwalk game, Adelaide selects a "Michael Jackson's Thriller" T-shirt as her prize. As a child, Corey Feldman was once a member of Jackson's close friendship circle, and was also one of the stars of both "The Lost Boys" (1986) and "The Goonies" (1985). Both films are referenced in "Us"
The man holding the Jeremiah 11:11 sign was the first to be attacked by his doppelgänger. He is seen in the beginning of the movie being put in the back of an ambulance, presumably after being stabbed. Later, Jason sees the doppelgänger on the beach with blood on his hand and his arms outstretched, the first person in the line waiting for the others to join hands. You can also see his red pants sticking out of the bottom of his jacket.
The fact that "Red" (really Adelaide) is the only Tethered who can/does speak English is a clue to her true identity. Likewise, her voice's hoarse, halting quality is due to both the facts that "Red" has not had anyone to speak with in decades and also that her vocal chords were damaged as a child when her double choked and abducted her. Likewise, "Adelaide"'s dialogue and story-line drop several voice-related clues about her identity. As a child, her parents took her to therapy after the switch because she seemed to stop talking. Though they assumed she was silent because of trauma, she actually couldn't talk, because she was a Tethered and it took her some time to learn how to speak. In the present-day, when Kitty tries to make small talk with Adelaide on the beach, Adelaide demurs, explaining, "I have a hard time talking."
The initial cut of the film did not include the haunting remixed instrumental version of "I've Got 5 On It". This dark version of the song was originally only cut for the film's trailer. Viewers responded very positively, thus encouraging Peele to insert it into the film's final showdown scene between Adelaide and Red
The "Thriller" (by Michael Jackson) T-shirt won for Adelaide by her father in the film's opening foreshadows the ending; both the film and the music video conclude with a question in regard to the identity of the main protagonist, punctuated with an ominously suggestive smile.
The Tyler twins appear to be a reference to the Grady twins in The Shining. During the beach scene, their posture is similar when standing over Zora and instead of saying "Come and play with us" they make fun of Jason playing in the sand. Also, when we see their bloody corpses in the shot looking down the elevated hallway, they are lying in similar positions to the Grady twins murder flashbacks.
Lupita N'yongo based the voice of protagonist Adelaide's doppelgänger counterpart Red on a neurological disorder called spasmodic dysphonia which causes involuntary spasms of the larynx. She was inspired to do so after reading a line in the script which stated that "She (Red) had not used her voice in many years.".
During the scene in the psychologist's office, young Adelaide is shown organizing the toy animals in a straight line in the sandpit, foreshadowing Red's plan to have the tethered stand hand in hand across America, beginning at the Santa Cruz beach. The last toy animal Adelaide places into the line is a white rabbit.
When the Wilson family visits the beach, they are shown in a bird's eye view shot walking across the sand with long shadows that resemble the numbers '1111', a reference to Jeremiah 11:11, the bible verse that appears multiple times throughout the film. Their long shadows also allude their doppelgängers, or 'shadows', who appear later in the film.
In the beginning scene where the "Hands Across America" commercial is playing, a VHS copy of C.H.U.D. (1984) can be seen on the shelf to the left of the TV. C.H.U.D. is a cult science fiction horror film about a group of subterranean creatures living in tunnels below the surface of New York City, similar to the subterranean "shadows" in Us. Another VHS tape visible on that shelf is a copy of The Man with Two Brains, a reference both to the dual-soul connection between the Tethered and their aboveground counterparts and to Jordan Peele's previous movie, Get Out, in which black people are kidnapped and some (though not all) of their brains are replaced by white people's brains.
Several aspects of the Tethereds' appearance and plan tie into Adelaide's last memories of her life aboveground. The Tethered all wear a single glove, which was also a favorite fashion accessory of Michael Jackson; Adelaide's father won her a "Thriller" t-shirt just before her abduction. Likewise, "Hands Across America," which for most Americans who lived through it was a relatively minor and forgettable moment, loomed large in Adelaide's memory as one of the last pop culture events she could remember from before her imprisonment.
When Red is detailing her past encounter with Adelaide near the end of the film, she mentions how she believes God brought them together that fateful night in 1986. This foreshadows the truth that Red is actually the real Adelaide, as the real version would have grown up learning about God whereas the Tethered, who don't even know how to speak, more likely wouldn't even comprehend the concept of God.
During the scene where Jason gets 'lost' on the beach, many of the camera shots directly reference those used by Spielberg in the film 'Jaws', during similar beach scenes. Jason is even wearing a 'Jaws' T-shirt, further underlining Jordan Peele's reverence to the classic film.
An early hint that the movie is more about class than race appears in the TV commercial for Hands Across America, a much-hyped 1986 event that aimed to raise awareness about homelessness by forming a human chain from coast to coast. The event stands in for a more general critique of charity (especially celebrity sponsored charity) as an adequate response to the structural inequality allegorized in "Us" ( or U.S.) through the tethered. When the tethered are seen near the end of the film (re)forming the human chain, the audience is asked to hear an ironic echo of the song actually sung during the 1986 event: Michael Jackson's "We are the World." (Hands Across America" netted relatively little for the poor owing to tremendous overhead expenses and huge numbers of unpaid pledges.) There is also another musical echo between the commercial and the final scene...the commercial features a muzak version of "Les Fleurs", which turns out to be the end-credits song of the film.
Adelaide never eats meat or drinks anything besides water. In the scene where her family is eating fast food and drinking soda, she is eating strawberries and drinking water. Later, Kitty offers her wine at the beach and she says she is fine with water.
When the Wilsons are driving the ambulance at the end, the number on the roof of the ambulance is "1111". A tie-in to the Bible chapter and verse (Jeremiah 11:11) that is shown multiple times during the movie.
Picking up on the topic of duality the title can be interpreted in two ways. Firstly, Us as a personal pronoun. Secondly, US as an abbreviation for United States. During one dialogue both interpretations are being picked up when Jason says "It's us" and later on Red says "We're Americans."
It appears to be an unwritten rule that the tethered only murder their own doppelganger. The Tylers, for example, die at the hands of their own doppelgangers, but when confronting the Wilson's, they only appear to toy with and capture the family, despite multiple opportunities to kill them. The same appears to be true when the Zora/Umbrae chase scene is interrupted by the car owner, as the car owner is stabbed by Umbrae, but only in the leg.
The only doppelgänger the "real" Adelaide actively seeks out to kill is her own, despite her whole family being in danger, possibly to avoid being responsible for the destruction of a fellow doppelgänger. She's alone with her daughter's doppelgänger and instead of finishing her off, she just gently says "shh, shh" and lets her die. She tries to convince her son's doppelgänger to not walk into the fire. The only doppelgänger she kills other than her own is one of the twins', and that could be because the twin posed a threat against her. Ultimately, she only sought out to kill Red so she could remain the only "real" Adelaide.
When Adelaide enters the hall of mirrors as a child in 1986, it is called the "Shaman's Vision Quest Forest." Near the end of the movie, there is another, present-day scene set in the hall of mirrors, but it has been renamed "Merlin's Forest," although the other exterior and interior features appear to have remained unchanged. This is consistent with the cultural shift that occurred between the 1980s and the time the movie was filmed (the late 2010s). While it was once commonplace to use Native American culture and themes to name institutions (such as sports teams, summer camps, even military weaponry), by 2018 there may have been politically correct pushback to adjust such naming conventions.
The scene in which Zora was driving the car and flung Umbrae off of the car and into the woods, which resulted in Adelaide going off into the woods and seeing Umbrae die in the tree, was a very clear parallel to the scene in Get Out when they hit the deer with their car and Chris gets out to go into the woods and sees the deer dying.