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How Scary Is Jordan Peele’s Us?

Introducing our highly scientific system for determining whether new movies are too scary for you.

GIF: A still of the daughter from Us with a flickering "The Scaredy Scale" superimposed.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Universal Pictures and Getty Images Plus.

For die-hards, no horror movie can be too scary. But for you, a wimp, the wrong one can leave you totally miserable. Perhaps, like me, you’ve even lost hours or whole nights of sleep and struggled to get certain images or ideas out of your head, leaving you to trudge into work or school the next morning unable to function properly.

Never fear, fellow scaredies, because Slate is introducing a new feature. We’ve put together a patented, spoiler-free, highly scientific system for rating new horror movies, comparing them to classics along a 10-point scale so you can determine which are too frightening for you. And because not everyone is scared by the same things—some viewers can’t stand jump scares, while others are haunted by more psychological terrors or simply can’t stomach arterial spurts—it will also break down each movie’s scares across three criteria: suspense, spookiness, and gore. First up: Us, Jordan Peele’s follow-up to Get Out. (For scaredies who nobly forced themselves to see Get Out, we’ll also include it here for comparative purposes.)

A chart titled “Suspense: How much will you dread the next kill or jump scare?” shows that Us ranks a 7 in suspense, roughly the same as Jaws. The scale ranges from The Joy of Painting (0) to Alien (10).
Chart by Slate. Us photo from Universal Pictures.

Us sustains roughly the same level of suspense as a typical slasher or creature feature, albeit with more comic relief. It has occasional jump scares, but as seen in the trailer, dangers more often lurk in plain sight, outside of windows or down the beach. However, unlike in Get Out, the tension begins early and rarely lets up.

A chart titled “Spookiness: How much will it haunt you after the movie is over?” shows that Us ranks an 8 in spookiness, roughly the same as The Babadook. The scale ranges from The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (0) to The Exorcist (10).
Chart by Slate. Us photo from Universal Pictures.

Get Out’s allegorical meanings and plot mechanics were clear to most moviegoers from the moment they left the theater. Sure, you could pick it over to find the Easter eggs you missed, but you likely had a basic grasp on what it all meant by the time the credits rolled. Us, on the other hand, seems more likely to linger with viewers who can’t help but puzzle over every twist and intriguing detail, plunging deeper and deeper into the uncanny valley in an attempt to make sense of it all. It also features a few creepy facial expressions that seem more likely to keep viewers up at night than the mental image of, say, Bradley Whitford.

A chart titled “Gore: the Ick Factor” shows that Us ranks a 7 in goriness, roughly the same as Jaws. The scale ranges from Singin’ in the Rain (0) to the Saw franchise (10).
Chart by Slate. Us photo from Universal Pictures.

Get Out includes close-ups of brain surgery and at least one stabbing, but by horror standards the body count is relatively low. Us, on the other hand … well, there’s a reason they put scissors on the poster. Much of the blood is obscured by darkness, and there’s little in the way of amputations and viscera, but there is at least one wince-inducing close-up of self-mutilation. Anyone who could stomach Get Out or a slasher such as Scream should be fine, but the squeamish may want to watch a scene or two from between their fingers.

A chart titled “Overall: This is even more subjective, depending on what kinds of scares get you the most” shows that Us ranks 7 overall, roughly the same as Alien. The scale ranges from Paddington (0) to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, 1974 (10).
Chart by Slate. Us photo from Universal Pictures.

If Get Out pushed you to your limits, you might want to stay away from Us. But if Jordan Peele’s first feature was no sweat for you, you should be able to bear his second. Still, everyone is different, and we can’t describe every scare without spoiling the whole movie, so anyone with highly specific fears should proceed at their own risk. Leporiphobes, beware!

Additional chart photos by PBS, Buena Vista Distribution Company, Warner Bros., Universal Pictures, Buena Vista Pictures, Paramount Pictures, New Line Cinema, Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures, IFC Films, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Lions Gate Films, Pixar, TWC-Dimension, and Sony Pictures.