The best horror directors are often fans themselves, and Jordan Peele’s literacy in the genre was apparent long before he took the genre by storm with 2017’s Get Out. Key and Peele, his sketch comedy show with Keegan-Michael Key, often used horror trappings as part of its gags — sending up everything from zombie horror movies to Twilight-style vampires. It came as no surprise then, that his subsequent directing efforts would understand so much about the great horror movies that came before them, even as they struck out in their own unique direction. However, a standing fan theory has drawn a stronger link between one of his movies and a genre classic, Halloween.
The 1978 masterpiece from John Carpenter, has influenced the genre for generations, and shades of it can be seen in Peele’s directing work in 2019’s Us. But the theory goes deeper than that, suggesting that the two movies actually share the same universe and Michael Myers is a “Tethered.”
According to Us, the Tethered are exact clones of existing humans, created by the government in an effort to control the population. The experiment was abandoned and the Tethered were left underground, only to emerge during the events of the movie and murder their originals. The movie’s heroine, Adelaide, encountered her tether as a girl in an amusement park funhouse, a meeting which has a huge bearing on the Tethered’s decision to emerge.
Peele wore his affection for Halloween on his sleeve during the film, notably with the hulking, silent tethered who appear before their mirrors in ominous silence before launching sudden, brutal attacks. Their resemblance to Myers in those moments is more than passing, as is the notion that he moves silently through a seemingly normal and unaware world. However, Peele makes deeper cuts as well. For instance, Adelaide’s doppelganger goes by the name of “Red,” and the facility holding her and the other Tethered contains a visually striking wall of rabbits in cages (presumably a part of the long-abandoned experimentation). As the theory points out, the combination matches a key detail in Halloween — a matchbook from a lounge called The Rabbit in Red — that feels too close to be a coincidence.
The theory also makes that connection more than symbolic. In simplest terms, Myers’ behavior matches that of the Tethered very closely. In the original’s now-legendary opening scene, a young Myers dons a clown mask and murders his sister with a carving knife. The attack comes out of nowhere, and the movie suggests that he was a perfectly normal boy until that moment. Afterward, he goes mute in the asylum and remains that way for 15 years before breaking out just as suddenly and launching the rampage that constitutes the bulk of the film.
The franchise’s mythology became complicated trying to explain the reasons for all of that — at least until 2018’s Halloween, which did away with the ponderous backstory and returned to the enigma of the Carpenter film. It emphasizes that Myers just decided to get up and kill one Halloween night, and he might do so again at any time. That may change with whatever revelations Halloween Kills has in store, but now, it matches the Tethered too closely to ignore the theory. The timetable matches as well, suggesting that a “Tethered” Michael may have swapped places with his normal cohort sometime before Adelaide’s encounter with Red in the funhouse.
Of course, there’s no way to prove the theory, but the fact that the two movies fit so closely together speaks to the care with which both were made. Carpenter was a master technician, building scares with the kind of elegance that Hitchcock might have admired. Peele paid close attention to that technique in his own films, and though they tell their own story, in the case of Us, the symmetry is a little too perfect to go unnoticed.
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