It may not be as badass as Samuel L. Jackson reciting Ezekiel 25:17 in Pulp Fiction, but Jeremiah 11:11 is a chilling motif in Jordan Peele’s newest horror movie, Us, and it turns up more frequently than you might realize. For the non-religious, here’s what Peele was trying to evoke with that chapter and verse from the Old Testament book, the Book of Jeremiah.
Spoilers for Jordan Peele’s Us below.
All throughout Us, there are allusions to mirror imagery that mimic the visual of “11:11.” Some are obvious — a homeless person straight up writes “Jeremiah 11:11” on a sign in 1986, and “11:11” is etched on their foreheads when they’ve died in the present day — but others are a little more oblique.
You might miss how “11-11” is the score for a football game that Gabriel (Winston Duke) watches on TV. It appears on T-shirts for the punk band Black Flag, whose logo is four straight “I” lines drawn in a row. When the Wilsons watch the news after the Tethers have risen above the surface, they’re tuned in to channel 11. And speaking of the Tethers, their weapons of choice are golden scissors, which are essentially two bladed “ones.”
Finally, when the Tethers arrive on the doorstep of the Wilsons, not only are they linked up like the charity Hands Across America (itself a recurring motif), the four of them standing together resembles an “11:11.”
So, clearly, “Jeremiah 11:11” is important to Us, but what does it mean? Read on to find out.
What Jeremiah 11:11 Means
As we previously explained, Jeremiah 11:11 has thematic significance to Us. Written in the Old Testament of the Bible, the chapter and verse allude to God’s wrath against the Jews for worshipping false Pagan deities in ancient Babylon.
The King James Version (KJV) of 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.”
In plain English, the verse means: y’all screwed. Because despite the Wilsons’ best efforts, from trying to call the police (and failing), to escaping to the Santa Cruz boardwalk and finding themselves all alone, help is never coming for the Wilson family. Unlike the ending of Peele’s first film, Get Out, there is no last-minute calvary to save the day.
Furthermore, reading the verse from Red’s (Lupita Nyong’o) point of view, she is angry a false version of herself — a “false deity” — lived the life she should have. And now she’s back for revenge. Hence, again: y’all screwed.
Remember the big twist of Us? “Adelaide” is actually the cloned Tether of the real Adelaide, with whom she switched places in 1986.
While the fake Adelaide lived a full life, including raising two children with Gabriel, the real Adelaide languished with the Tethers and plotted her revenge. Because she was the only one who contained a “soul,” the real Adelaide — now named Red — united the Tethers to take their place on the surface.
The recurring Jeremiah 11:11 motif in Peele’s Us has many terrifying implications. In short, we’re never quite sure who the people we think we know really are. Everyone has a dark version of themselves that they never want to reveal. But in his newest film, Peele turns that deeply personal fear into a worldwide terror that does more than just come back to haunt us. It wants to live among us.
Us is now playing in theaters.