Following the massive critical and commercial success of Get Out and Us, Jordan Peele has demonstrated his horror chops, along with his ability to make us laugh and scream in terror simultaneously. In addition to delivering on laughs and scares, Peele’s movie always had a fascinating social commentary infused that allowed for greater discussion.
And it’s in all that that Nope definitely feels different than his two previous cinematic excursions. For those going in expecting another intense horror/thriller/comedy with overt social commentary, it’s probably not what you’re expecting. And while it does have flaws, it has a lot going for it too.
Proof of Extraterrestrial Life
Opening on the Heywood Ranch, we pick up with Otis Jr. aka OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) and his sister Emerald (Keke Palmer) 6 months after the mysterious death of their father (Keith David). Their animal wrangling business for Hollywood is a shell of its former self, and OJ has resorted to selling several of his father’s prized horses to Jupe (Steven Yuen), a former TV child star and owner of a western themed amusement park.
But when a series of strange electrical blackouts occur, coupled with an odd shape in the sky, the two siblings set out to prove the existence of alien life. They enlist the help of a local electronic store employee and a film director. Their ultimate goal is to put themselves on the map with this bombshell discovery. All the while, this foreign threat becomes more dangerous and they find themselves running for their lives.
At its core, the real star of the movie is the family dynamic and tension between OJ and Emerald. They couldn’t be more different personality-wise, but they’re equally affected by the sudden death and absence of their father. They both struggle with how to honor and maintain the legacy of his ranch, which has been passed down generations.
Nope feels much more character driven than Get Out or Us, but sometimes that results in the pacing moving incredibly slowly, and the plot feeling like there’s not much going on at times. As previously mentioned, it’s quite different in tone and pace from Peele’s previous works. In a lot of ways, it’s not even a horror movie, opting for more of a sci-fi/mystery vibe.
The most fascinating takeaway from Nope however, is in how inspiring it manages to be. Right from the beginning, OJ and Emerald feel like underdogs, struggling to get by both financially and socially. And for them this proof of alien life will put them on the map and make them somebody (at least that’s what they think).
In the uncertain and chaotic social/economic times we live in, who hasn’t felt lost like that? Who hasn’t had some dream of “being put on the map” and a single grand gesture solving all of our problems? The “documentary crew” really is a band of misfits and for everyone who’s ever felt like that, it hits very close to home.
It also has to be addressed that this is probably Jordan Peele’s best shot film from a cinematography standpoint. We’re treated to gorgeous sweeping shots of the California desert and mountains that gives the movie a truly epic feel. The archaic western design juxtaposes beautifully with the advanced sci-fi angle of UFOs.
Ultimately, Nope doesn’t quite hit the same mark that Get Out or Us do, but that in no way means it’s a bad film. It does drag a bit at times, and there is one plotline that seemingly goes nowhere and has nothing to do with anything else. But it’s gorgeously shot, well-acted, and its final 20 minutes are an edge of your seat thrill ride!
What did you think of Nope? Let us know in the comments!
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