Director: Jordan Peele
Writer: Jordan Peele
Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Brandon Perea, Michael Wincott, Steven Yeun, and more.
This review is SPOILER-FREE and down at the bottom I’ll get into the dirty dirty spoilers if you’re interested.
OH, IT’S EVENT TIME!!! The newest Jordan Peele film is upon us and I am SALIVATING!!! Is it aliens? It is a monster? Is it the Liam Neeson? LET’S FIND OUT!!!
“The residents of a lonely gulch in inland California bear witness to an uncanny and chilling discovery.”
With Jordan Peele’s films, I’ve found a sweet spot of how much I want to know about his movies before I dive into it, and that level is essentially bare minimum. I watched a limited amount of trailers, read next to no early reviews or predictions, and barely dove into the movie myself. I took what I could get from what I saw and there sat my expectations. After finally watching the completed project, my oh my, what a treat.
I won’t dive too deep into what “Nope” is all about. You can guess aliens like I did, you can guess pure horror, possession, disaster movie, or whatever you would like. The way I am, I like to know absolutely nothing so I will treat my readers as such. My deep cut will be down low on this page so scroll down there for the reveal, but otherwise, “Nope” is a sub-genre of horror as Peele has said he loves to dip his toes into. “Get Out” was a psychological thriller, “Us” was the closest thing to a pure horror film, and “Nope” is another sub-genre he has not previously done. For those here to find out if this is the next shit-your-pants type horror – just get out (ha), leave. That’s not what Peele does, and I’m sorry if that was what your assumption was with the trailers.
With every Jordan Peele film comes a social commentary to cause conversation. “Nope” continues the trend and this time, in my opinion, changes up the typical tune of what kind of message Peele is sending out there. Abby and I talked about it on the car ride home. She was the one to hit the nail on the head and then we both dug deep to flesh out our idea. Details down low in the spoiler section.
Performances and Peele go hand-in-hand with each other. “Get Out” gave us Daniel Kaluuya as Chris, “Us” gave an absolute bone chilling performance from Lupita, and “Nope” now gives us… Well, for me, it didn’t give me anything too wild as far as other worldly performances. The whole cast performs well enough to make a statement and at least not prompt me to say “Oh, X was pointless or not so good.” HOWEVER, the expression performances of this cast are excellent. What I mean by that is, for example, Daniel Kaluuya does an incredible job expressing himself with his face. His stares, his determination, his care, it’s all visible, evident, and powerful. Steven Yuen, another excellent expression performance on the same scale as Daniel. How about Keke Palmer? Bleeding charisma and an absolute charmer.
It’s a dance with a new sub-genre of horror with director Jordan Peele returning for his third feature film project all from his sick, twisted mind. We get comedy, as one would expect, uniqueness, and absolute sheer horrific concepts and moments. The mystery kept me locked in and once the switch was flipped to mayhem, it was quite a show. Horror comes in many forms, we have the ever popular possession horror, body horror, terror horror, the list goes on. Then we have Jordan Peele who provides us the horror of how sh*tty humans can be, and that is something truly terrifying and discomforting once the mirror is turned on us. Peele has me locked in and I will attend every one of these event movies grinning from ear to ear.
No copyright infringement is intended.
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WHERE TO BEGIN?!
Let’s start with genre – Here we have what I would deem a monster movie. Alien/Monster to be exact. This…Thing… Was something completely strange and honestly, unlike anything notable off the top of my head. What I loved and admired first was how much Peele played off the early response of fans, at least mine. I anticipated a UFO with aliens aboard and ready to invade. The characters thought the same thing, until that was farther from fact. The “UFO” became an alien as a whole unlike anything they’ve seen and like I said, I just loved how the characters virtually went through the same progression I did as an anticipating fan.
What was this alien/monster? Was it an eyeball? A part of a larger being? A haunted drapery? Who knows other than the cast and Peele himself. Regardless, that’s the thing I loved the most was the fact that I can’t exactly deem it anything than an extra-terrestrial organism and it f*ckin worked.
Jordan uses animals in all of his films. He’s on record as saying something along the lines of the use of animals portrays, essentially, how it sucks to be on Earth along with humans. The animals fall 2nd rate and become used and abused. Deer fall victim to cars in “Get Out,” rabbits are feasted upon as the only form of nourishment in “Us,” and horses and a monkey are cannon fodder for the alien and human entertainment. Of course, until they say “nope.”
The concept of horses and Gordy the monkey saying “nope” was another thing I personally drew a conclusion on. Everything’s fine and dandy until something makes them snap. Something happens and they resort to their true animalistic nature. A horse has someone look at it in the eye (commercial shoot and OJ’s warning to not look it in the eye), Gordy snaps once balloons pop, ala massacre; the alien eats what looks at it or draws its attention (similar to the horse previously mentioned). Lastly, a human won’t go into a vicious black hole of watching spectacle as long as they say “nope” to the next biggest trend (aka, don’t look it in its eye.)
So what’s the theme? What’s the social commentary to “Nope”? As I said, on the way home, Abby and I dove in to what we thought it was. She sparked the conversation and said “viewers.” At first I thought, ok, yeah but I need more. Then it came down like an avalanche. That was the right answer. Viewers, virality, spectacle, the big event, and the big moment. We as humans chase these things in this culture of fame and fortune, and even if not then, we are so sucked into watching spectacle. TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, reality shows, sports, the whole likes of it all. We will go to great lengths and risk it all in order to get “the money shot.” These characters literally stayed and saw the opportunity to get the money shot of this alien before it ever became truly dangerous, and what happened once it did? They stuck it out and continued despite the risks. This theme is scattered not only within the alien/monster, but surrounding everything and everyone else.
Steven Yeun as Jupe: Child actor turned showman and ranch/fairground owner. Famous as a child actor yet gained additional fame and fortune from a horrific accident. Gordy, the acting monkey, snapped and turned to his animalistic instinct, mortally maiming fellow actors and even killing some. While tragic and carrying this tragedy with him, he profited on the spectacle. People want to see where it happened and interact with the tragedy. Now long after said tragedy, Jupe is turning the alien spectacle into a show which turns out to be quite the bad idea. Psssssst, spoiler-alert, everyone dies.
Keke Palmer as Emerald Haywood: Budding star actor, musician, director, producer, stunt coordinator, train conductor, yoga instructor, phone repair woman, yadda yadda yadda… Point is she can do it all. But how can she break that barrier into stardom? Profit along with her brother to catch the money shot of this alien. Bingo.
Daniel Kaluuya as OJ Haywood: Lone owner of the Haywood Ranch after his father tragically passes away. How can he keep it afloat? Will he have to sell off his stable and the ranch to continue a living? Or can he cash in on the spectacle that is this hungry alien? You can guess what he wants to do.
Brandon Perea as Angel Torres: Comic relief for us, alien conspiracy theorist in “Nope.” Caught in the right place at the right time selling surveillance equipment to the Haywoods. Alien fanatic mixed with possible sighting of an alien in real life? Bet that he is jumping in on the spectacle.
Michael Wincott as cinematographer Antles Holst: What could an award winning cinematographer possibly want with a bunch of nobodies that claim they have the once-in-a-lifetime shot? He wants to go out with catching something on film that no being could ever catch. So much so that he literally sacrifices himself to get the shot. C’MON PEOPLE, SPECTACLE SPECTACLE SPECTACLE!
Last bit….. F*CKING TMZ SHOWS UP! WHO ELSE CHASES SPECTACLE TO CASH IN ON IT?! TM-F*CKIN-Z…. I digress.
I loved it, I honestly loved it. Peele dances with the monster horror genre in the form of a gigantic alien organism feasting on any living being in sight. Honestly, there were some horrific concepts in here like the claustrophobic sequence of the people getting eaten, the sounds of the horses and humans screaming as the being flied overhead, and the scene of blood and inorganic objects raining down from the alien after it was done consuming the people. The big thing I really love about “Nope” is how you can separate the social commentary from the genre and enjoy it as either or a combination of both. Want a dope alien/monster horror flick? Got you. Want an interesting theme to make you think, reflect, and dissect after your viewing? Bet. Chase the spectacle, ya’ll. It’s in our blood. “Nope” is the summer movie to catch.