Nope



"I guess some animals ain't fit to be trained."


Jordan Peele has made a name for himself as an auteur horror film director. With the back-to-back successes of Get Out and Us, Peele carved out a niche in painstaking metaphors. His third film, Nope, is a whole other animal entirely.


Written and directed by Peele, Nope stars Daniel Kaluuya as Otis "OJ" Haywood Jr., son of the Haywood Hollywood horse ranch owner. Along with his father, OJ lives on the ranch in the desert town of Agua Dulce, California, raising and training horses to rent out for movie and television productions. After his father dies from a freak accident, OJ and his sister Em (Keke Palmer) inherit the ranch and attempt to profit from it by continuing their father's legacy. OJ and Em are not as successful and decide to sell their horses to Jupe (Steven Yeun), a neighbor who owns a carnival attraction called Jupiter's Claim. Jupe is a former child actor who once witnessed a chimpanzee, Gordy, maul several actors to death while on a television series set. Jupe exploits his famous story at Jupiter's Claim for financial gain, mixing in a bit of memorabilia and sideshow accounts.



The crux of Nope comes from mysterious weather patterns and electrical outages at OJ and Em's ranch. Horses get spooked and run away. OJ and Em enlist the help of a Fry's Electronics employee (Brandon Perea) to install cameras to capture the phenomenon on film, except the efforts are foiled by the strange goings on in the sky. But not before each sees what appears to be an Unidentified Flying Object hovering through the clouds.


Nope is not a horror movie. Anyone that claims otherwise is simply putting on a show like Jupe does to no avail. Jordan Peele has made a science fiction thriller that is one of the most visually striking films in recent memory. Hoyte van Hoytema's cinematography and Michael Abels's score elevate every level of thrill throughout Nope's elaborate sequences, striking a balance of comedy and exhilaration. Peele has made his most palatable and general audience-friendly movie to date, with minimal social commentary, except for how humans abuse animals for entertainment and show business. Kaluuya's OJ is calm under pressure, leaving most of his emotions to be seen through his eye movements rather than long narrative speeches. Palmer has never been better in a role that sees Em do everything she can to become famous, even risking her life for one shot at the aerial phenomena.



The one piece that doesn't fit in the Nope puzzle is that of Gordy, the aforementioned violent primate. Gordy's storyline, flashbacks, and Jupe's involvement are not integral to the A-story at hand. It's a subplot that didn't seem to be tied to anything but is mentioned throughout the film. It doesn't shed any light on the real-world danger at the horse ranch. If Peele had cut that section of the film, it would have trimmed the movie down to a more succinct representation of humans interacting with the great unknown.


Still, it's a thrill ride worth it for fans of similar movies like Signs and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.


Ticket rating: 🎟🎟🎟🎟