Less of a “nope” and more of a “sure, okay.”
Following the critical and commercial success of his films Get Out (2017) and Us (2019) – check out my review, here – writer / director Jordan Peele has solidified himself as a master of modern day horror, one whose films are always eagerly anticipated. Even when audiences have no idea what to expect! I had watched the trailer for Nope (2022) a few times before stepping into the theatre and even after leaving, I still had trouble fathoming what the movie was about. Regardless, I trust Peele’s track record so I went into the movie with unwavering faith that I’d be both sufficiently creeped out and impressed. Though there were a few creepy sequences and I was utterly blown away by the overall prowess of Peele’s filmmaking, for me Nope ranks third when it comes to my favourite of the director’s movies. It’s not bad in the slightest and in fact, this may be Peele’s most incredible movie to date. Plot-wise, I was just less interested in Nope as I was in Get Out and Us.
Written and directed by Peele, Nope follows OJ and Emerald Haywood, two siblings who own a California horse ranch that’s fallen on hard times. When the Haywoods discover something miraculous yet sinister flying above their ranch, they set out to capture video evidence of the UFO. Additionally, theme park owner Ricky “Jupe” Park sets out to exploit the phenomenon for his own gain.
I think what I love and admire most about Peele as a writer and a director is that he never makes the same kind of movie twice. From the way his movies are filmed, to the themes they explore, to the types of horrors they play on, each one is totally unique. I mean, you can definitely tell it’s one of Peele’s movies because it’s overflowing with his trademark suave direction, chilling musical cues and seemingly random visuals that while confusing upon first glance, will later have you screaming, “ooohhh!! THAT’S what that meant! THAT’S why he showed that to us!” That last element is what I love about Peele’s movies. It makes for such a fun, edge-of-your-seat, fully invested movie-watching experience when you’re slowly realizing how things are coming together. That’s always how Peele’s movies start: An intriguing and seemingly unrelated opening that has a greater meaning later on. Nope is no exception. Here’s a tip: Remember the chimp! If you’ve become a fan of Peele’s signature style of filmmaking, there is more than enough to appreciate about this movie. Again, this is a fantastically made movie, but I think where Nope lost me personally is its reliance on being a science-fiction / adventure movie. As breathtaking as it is to watch, I’m more of a straight-up horror fan myself.
I loved the psychological thrills and creepy slasher vibes that Peele utilized in Get Out and Us because I’m already a huge fan of those genres. I’m not the biggest sci-fi fan so I had a feeling that no matter what, Nope was going to be my least favourite of his movies. I definitely found the movie to be cool and interesting both premise-wise and stylistically, but it was overall very slow-moving and not as terror-inducing as Peele’s past movies. I think it’s kind of disappointing when we’re over an hour in and nothing particularly scary has happened yet. There’s a brilliant turning point in the movie where things thankfully begin to get creepier but until that halfway point, the sound design is about the scariest thing about Nope.
Which isn’t to say that it’s not worth watching just because it’s not the most frightening of Peele’s movies. Peele is obviously going for a different kind of horror and honestly, a different kind of movie altogether than his past endeavours and it’s a spectacle to watch. Which is very appropriate because he’s said that the influence for Nope were other movies about spectacles such as King Kong (1933) and Jurassic Park (1993). By the way, check out my review for that movie, here. The only way to do this original powerhouse of a movie justice is to see it on the big screen. This is by far Peele’s most ambitious movie and I think it’s going to open up a world of possibilities for him. After watching Nope I could easily see Peele writing and / or directing any number of action, adventure or science-fiction movies. I selfishly hope he’ll stick to horror though because man, he’s awesome at it.
Nope stars Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer as OJ and Emerald respectively, two actors who I simply just adore. Seriously, I think I’ve loved these two in every single thing I’ve seen them in. Both are ridiculously talented and their range as actors is incredible! They can do any genre and with Nope they add the sci-fi / horror genre to the list. Once again, this pair of superstars deliver. Kaluuya and Palmer handle both the thrills and chills of this movie masterfully, their performances ensuring that there is never a dull moment onscreen. Along with co-stars Steven Yeun and Brandon Perea, the cast of Nope is hands down a group of talented actors who will have your eyes trained on them for the entire movie. Is Perea one of my new celebrity crushes? Ummm, Hell yes. I would say that even if the unusual premise has you on the fence about seeing this movie, trust me, the fantastic performances by this band of instantly likeable actors is well worth the price of admission.
Though I walked out of the theatre not completely in love with Nope, I would still absolutely recommend that you all go see it. Not only is it an incredible piece of filmmaking, but I firmly believe that if you end up even remotely liking this movie, you will eventually fall even more and more in love with it. In fact, after writing this review a week after seeing the movie, I think I want to go and watch to again. Which is the first time I’ve said that about a movie in a LONG time. So many movies these days just wash over you without making any kind of impact, but that is certainly not the case with Nope. I definitely appreciate it so much more and I have a feeling that I’ll pick up on even more small details and have my mind blown all over again. Damn, I love how Peele’s movies always stick with you and keep you thinking about it even days after leaving the theatre. I CAN’T WAIT for his next movie!
Have you seen Nope? What’s your favourite Jordan Peele movie?
Let me know in the comments or on social media!