In July 2022, critically acclaimed director Jordan Peele’s latest innovative horror film “Nope” was released.
Peele’s claim to fame as a director was the 2017 psychological horror film “Get Out,” which is often cited by critics as one of the best and most original movies of the 21st century. He also directed the 2019 horror film “Us,”and while not as highly praised as “Get Out,” it is still considered a cut above most horror movies that are released today.
“Nope” stars Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer. Alongside them are Brandon Perea, Michael Wincott and Steve Yeun. Kaluuya, who plays the main lead is no stranger to Peele’s filmography, as he also portrayed the main lead of “Get Out” five years prior.
The plot of “Nope” follows Otis Haywood, an inheritor of a California horse ranch utilized for Hollywood productions after his father was killed in a freak accident. Otis and his sister Emerald try to combat financial troubles of the ranch by selling off the horses to a western theme park owner named Jupe. What follows is a series of increasingly bizarre events involving a UFO spotted in the sky, with the Haywood siblings and a salesman named Angel attempting to prove its existence to others.
The characters are well defined and developed over the course of the movie. The performances from both Kaluuya as Otis and Palmer as Emerald are consistently great and bring a lot of life to the story. In particular, Wincott gives a memorable performance as the perfectionist cinematographer Antler Holst.
The film incorporates many different genres. On top of horror, there is also science fiction and some elements of western film as well.
Peele is known for layering his films with various underlying themes that are sometimes hard to spot on a first watch. In the case of “Nope” the deeper meaning of the film touches upon trauma, exploitation, and how far an individual will go to capture the spectacle of a moment, even if it means potentially disrupting the subject.
In terms of visuals, the film is striking to the eye, with the cinematography being an essential standout. The eerie and sinister design of the main UFO, nicknamed in the film as “Jean Jacket,” is a very unique spectacle to behold, as it also ties into one of the aforementioned themes of the movie.
The first motion picture ever created, known as Eadweard Muybridge’s “Animal Locomotion,” is incorporated into the plot and subject matter of the film. Not only because Haywood and his family own a ranch where horses are trained to be used for filmmaking purposes, but also because it ties into the theme of humans “capturing spectacle.” Halfway through the movie there is a rather disturbing backstory given to one of the characters but the film doesn’t explicitly give context for it. Rather, it further delves into the idea of using past experiences and trauma for exploitation and captivation.
Despite the film’s title, “Nope” is a rather fun watch for those interested in sci-fi horror. It further cements Peele as a talented director capable of crafting engaging stories with well-written characters and thought-provoking concepts.