One of the most pleasant surprises of the last decade was Jordan Peele. Starting as a comedian, Peele broke out on television with Key and Peele before taking the world by surprise with 2017’s Get Out. Along with Us, which I really liked unlike some others, Peele has shown himself to be a solid horror director. Does this trend continue with Nope?
In a Californian gulch, OJ and Em Haywood (played by Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer) try to run their family’s business of training houses for film and television productions, six months after their father’s unexpected death due to an object falling from the sky. They are in a tight financial situation and have even had to sell houses to a neighboring theme park owner Jupe (played by Steven Yeun). The siblings soon notice a mysterious object in the sky that causes mysterious events, such as electronic disturbances, objects falling out of the sky and the loss of some of their horses. Seeing an opportunity, the siblings decide to catch this UFO on camera in order to handle their financial woes.
Like Peele’s previous outings, Nope is based heavily around its themes and ideas, from the first minute to the final seconds. These themes include exploitation, spectacle, film, animals and grief. And the film does not hold the hand of the audience at all with its ideas, preferring those ideas to be figured out on their own. This results in some plot points being more odd than others (for example, Gordy’s Home). However, every detail of the film is actually quite important to the film and as such, Nope is tightly constructed, with no plot point being superfluous.
This is further helped by the film’s amazing cinematography. The shots are both calculated and purposeful, showing exactly what is needed at the time. For example, the opening shot is a long shot of the Gordy’s Home incident, showing just enough to imply the horror occurring. We only get to see a pair of feet, a ruined set and a bloody chimp. The environmental shots are comparable to Spielberg in both their spectacle and scale. Finally, the UFO is mostly obscured throughout much of the film, building up the object for its eventual reveal in its horrifying glory.
Speaking of horror, Nope is a very intense film to watch. As a horror film, it does its job of scaring the audience well, with several horrifying moments sprinkled throughout the film. From the opening scene, the film keeps building tension until the truth of what is happening becomes much more clear. The climax of the film is an intense ride, where the fate of anyone and everyone becomes an open question.
Helping the intensity are the characters and their performances. Daniel Kaluuya continues with showing his great talent with the portrayal of OJ, a charismatic man of few words having a good dynamic with his sister. Speaking of her, Keke Palmer does a great job in her role, being the more outgoing and ambitious of the siblings. The rest of the cast are great as well, with Brandon Perea and Steven Yeun both being highlights among the cast.
It’s safe to say that Nope is a solid movie. The film is horrifying, has humor, good cinematography, performances and writing. It is tightly constructed with nothing done without reason. The film is not for everyone and has elements that can confuse audiences. However I don’t consider this to be much of a black mark on the film, as the quality of the film is easy to see. Jordan Peele continues to show an incredible amount of skill in telling interesting and unique stories with this film being another fine addition in his filmmaking repertoire.