Jordan Peele is the master of tiny details.
Jordan Peele is one of the best writers, directors, and performers working today. Whether it’s horror comedy, he’s a big fan of small details.
So let’s break down some of the best hidden details, easter eggs, and references in his films.
Jordan Peele has said that the title of Get Out is a reference to what people want to shout at the screen while watching a horror movie. The title also ties into the Eddie Murphy bit that partially inspired the film (see #20).
Some actors have to use tricks to cry on screen, but not Daniel Kaluuya. He was given the lead role in Get Out after performing five takes of the same scene. In every single one, he produced a perfect “single tear” cry that blew Jordan Peele away.
In a blink-and-you-miss-it moment in Us, the words “get out” are scratched onto the entrance of the hall of mirrors.
Symbolism? Metaphor? Sure, that’s there. But a big reason Peele used rabbits in Us is because they’re just plain creepy. He told BBC, “They’re very cuddly but they also have a sociopathic expression and they kind of look past you in a creepy kind of way.”
2021’s Candyman, which Peele wrote, was partially shot in Cabrini Green. This was the neighborhood the original movie was shot in, but has since been demolished. Peele, Win Rosenfeld, and Nia DaCosta used the real world state of Cabrini Green’s row houses to explore the film’s theme of gentrification.
Us is inspired by many horror movies Jordan Peele loves, and he wanted his cast to have a “shared language” while making the film. He gave the actors a list of these movies to watch: The Birds, Jaws, Dead Again, The Shining, The Sixth Sense, The Babadook, It Follows, Funny Games, Martyrs, Let the Right One In, and A Tale of Two Sisters.
Keegan-Michael Key is allergic to cats, and in Keanu there were seven different felines that played the title role. He had to take regular allergy medicine to be on set with them, but he still made sure they were compensated for their work. All the cats were given a case of Fancy Feast and some cat toys.
The set of Candyman may have been haunted. Director Nia DaCosta reported that there was an infestation during filming. An infestation of what? Bees.
The crew of Us didn’t have to do too much set dressing on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Many of the attractions and buildings date back to the 1910s, and there actually is a tunnel system that runs underground. The hall of mirrors, however, was added for the film.
In an interview with BBC Radio 1, Peele stated that the single leather glove worn by the tethered is a reference to other famous figures who have worn solo gloves. Most notably: Freddy Kreuger, O.J. Simpson, and Michael Jackson.
In Candyman, the character William Burke reads Weaveworld, which is a book written by Clive Barker. The character of Candyman was created by Barker in his short story “The Forbidden.”
Lupita Nyong’o based the voice of Red on Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Specifically, Kennedy had spasmodic dysphoria which causes spasms in your vocal muscles.
For how incredible and densely packed Get Out is, Peele managed to wrap filming just 23 days after they started.
Method Man played a character named Cheese in The Wire. His character’s name in Keanu? Cheddar.
In Candyman (2021), the same sound of the baby crying from the 1992 film was reused.
In Us, Adelaide’s mother says, “They’re shooting a movie over there by the carousel.” This is a reference to the opening scene of The Lost Boys, a vampire movie that also features the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
The opening of Get Out is somewhat inspired by Halloween, a movie that rethought the idea of the “perfect white neighborhood.”
During a car chase scene in Keanu, we quickly see a sign for “Judge Jessie.” This is a character played by Keegan-Michael Key in Key and Peele.
Jordan Peele was originally set to direct Candyman, but he stepped down to work on Us. Nia DaCosta wound up directing, and went on to become the first Black female filmmaker to have a movie open at #1 at the box office.
Jordan Peele was partially inspired to make Get Out by Eddie Murphy. Murphy’s 1983 Delirious features a bit in which the comedian talks about why people don’t just leave haunted houses as soon as weird stuff starts happening. He even says Get Out’s title towards the end.
It may seem like a no-brainer that Keanu Reeves voiced the cat in Keanu. In fact, this wasn’t added until the first trailer for the movie had already come out. Reeves saw the preview and wanted to be involved, so he got in touch with Key and Peele and they fit him in (starts around 43 seconds in).
In Candyman, shadow puppets show some of the gruesome consequences of racial violence. This is similar to the puppetry done by Kara Walker, who uses shadow figures to explore racism.
Jordan Peele told Duke Nicholson to play his character in Us like Lloyd the bartender from The Shining. At the time, Peele didn’t realize that Duke is actually the grandson of Jack Nicholson, who played opposite Lloyd the bartender in that iconic scene.
The main theme of Get Out, composed by Michael Abels, is “Sikiliza Kwa Wahenga.” It is sung in Swahili, except for the word “brother” (sung in English) which Abels felt was a powerful word among the Black community. Abels viewed the voices in the song as the souls of slaves and lynching victims warning Chris. The lyrics translate to, “Brother, run! Listen to the elders. Listen to the truth. Run away! Save yourself.”
On first viewing, it seems like Rose sticks up for Chris when the cop pulls them over because she’s defending her boyfriend. In reality, she’s trying to avoid Chris’s license being run so that he can’t be traced to the Armitages once they take his body.
[SPOILER for Candyman] When Anne-Marie tells Anthony McCoy that William Burke is the baby Candyman tried to sacrifice in 1992, a scar can be seen on her shoulder. This is where Helen stabbed Anne-Marie with a meat cleaver in the original movie.
[SPOILER for Candyman (2021)] To summon the Candyman, you must say his name five times in a mirror. Anthony McCoy’s name is said five times in the movie before he becomes Candyman.
Which easter eggs did I miss? Let me know in the comments!
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