Daniel Kaluuya in Nope, written and directed by Jordan Peele | Courtesy of Universal Pictures
Nope is a story of resilience in the face of unknown threats. A family of horse wranglers struggle after the mysterious death of patriarch Otis Haywood Sr. (Keith David). This leaves O.J. (Daniel Kaluuya) in charge of the operation but lacking the business the sense his father had. Shortly after his sister Em (Keke Palmer) arrives to offer assistance, the two hatch a get-rich-quick scheme when they begin to suspect an alien spaceship is lurking among the clouds. As the two plot and execute ways to capture proof of the otherworldly visitors, they soon realize they could be in over their heads.
What works in Nope is the grandeur and thrills. Much like his other features, writer and director Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us) proves masterful at tone. Nope creates an environment brimming with tension and mystery which will likely pull in audience members as questions and concerns mount. With twists, turns, and moments to gasp at, Nope is an experience best enjoyed with a rapt crowd. Adding to the scope of the film is Hoyte van Hoytema’s (Ad Astra, Interstellar) exceptional cinematography. His uses of wide shots and gorgeous lighting make viewing an absolute delight via a showcase of sun-kissed vistas. The juxtaposition of such beautiful, serene, rustic landscapes that hide unexplained horror lurking above works incredibly well.
Despite a limited catalog, Jordan Peele’s films have become known for their metaphors and messages. Individuals expecting this same level of thematic depth in Nope may be slightly disappointed. While erudite cinephiles will undoubtedly parse his every shot and debate intended meanings, Nope appears on the surface to be something simple—Peele’s genuine attempt to make a thriller about aliens. This base premise does come with a few weighted audience-fueled tropes. For example, one may wonder aloud why characters don’t communicate better, or choose safety over rash heroics. It would be a stretch to say Nope has plot holes, but there are some moments and decisions that could invoke head-scratching.
Nope is an above-average thrill ride about a superior and unpredictable predator. While perhaps lacking a bit less of the social commentary typically found his films, Peele flexes some new muscles adeptly. Recommended for a great screening venue in the dark with a group of genre fans.
Nope is available to stream now on Apple TV, Amazon Prime, Vudu, and Google Play
Recommended if you Enjoyed: Signs, Jaws, Contact