AUSTIN (Texas) • The studio behind Jordan Peele's new horror movie Us need not be scared that it may be a box-office dud.
Last Friday, at its world premiere at the South by Southwest festival, the audience broke out in cheers to register their appreciation of having a frighteningly good time.
Peele had warmed up the crowd with jokes. "What if I showed four episodes of This Is Us in a row, with no explanation?" he asked, alluding to the hit TV series.
Expectations have been high for Us - the follow-up to Peele's Oscar-winning, culture-galvanising Get Out (2017) - since the trailer dropped on Christmas Day.
Get Out mixed humour and chills, and in Us, Peele's comedy roots are even more apparent. At Friday's screening, the crowd was laughing heartily one moment, screaming the next and cheering soon after.
But Peele wants to leave folk wondering as well. During a Q&A after the screening, he said: "My favourite thing is the idea that people will leave ready to have a conversation with whoever they're with."
He continued: "I also wanted to design a film that's very personal for every individual."
Early critical responses have been positive, while grappling with the movie's meaning.
The Hollywood Reporter wrote, "Maybe every happy ending is somebody else's catastrophe, and therefore, no horror film is ever really over."
Variety said the movie trades "on some uncanny combination of Peele's imagination and our own to suggest a horror infinitely larger and more insidious than the film is capable of representing".