Nope Review

Jordan Peele continues to expand our imagination with his next directorial venture Nope. Ever since the success of Get Out and Us, Peele has established himself as a horror director on the rise. The actor-turned-director turns to sci-fi as he goes deep into his love of horror reteaming with Daniel Kaluuya in the lead as he’s joined by the likes of Keke Palmer and Steven Yuen. His latest film is already making waves as the horror movie event to check out this summer. With the cryptic marketing behind Nope, this may be Peele’s most ambitious and cinematic piece of work yet.

Nope begins with an opening scene that is very disturbing and frightening, which already sets the tone of the film as it jumps into the main story. The premise follows two siblings, OJ Haywood (Daniel Kaluuya) and Em (Keke Palmer) who own and operate a California horse ranch after the mysterious death of their father Otis Haywood Sr. (Keith David). We learn that their father was only the beginning in a series of eerily similar incidences where a UFO has been sighted in their hometown. The brother-sister duo decides to get to the bottom of these happenings by capturing footage of this extraterrestrial with the help of an electronics salesman Angel (Brandon Perea) and Hollywood cameraman Antlers (Michael Wincott). What happens in the rest of the film pushes them as they fight to survive and make a horrifying and life-changing discovery.

Working on a bigger budget than in his previous films, Peele relies on visuals and sound to create tension that is very reminiscent of Steven Spielberg’s earlier sci-fi films like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Jaws. Even though the film seems small in scale and casting, it does set itself up for some impressive effects and some gorgeous set-pieces that surround it. With the use of IMAX cameras, Peele makes these shots count when we see the enormous valley and the skies before spotting what lurks in those clouds. The action also builds thanks to the sound and its absence and the creepy imagery of blood and falling objects raining down from the sky. It is the silence that creates this tension and makes your spine tingle not knowing the danger lies above for these characters.

The story is like one big puzzle that connects with these different pieces coming together. We do get this one unrelated incident dealing with Steven Yuen’s character that also connects to the current situation in the film. We see what both Yuen and Kaluuya’s characters face, providing a great parallel between the two. On one end, we see Yuen’s June remembering an incident back when he was younger that has scarred him to this day. With OJ, we see him on that same path after witnessing the death of his father and getting to the bottom of these unnatural occurrences happening on his ranch. Even though the plot can be a little jumbled and somewhat distant, the main story does offer a lot of layers that all build up into an incredible climax. The first half of the film does take some time for us to get to know these characters, but it’s the second part that is worth it once the action starts to pick up. There’s also some of that trademark humor that Peele is known for in his films that is imprinted into the film and the deliveries are just perfectly executed.

What makes the film so entertaining is the cast, especially Kaluuya and Palmer. Kaluuya continues to impress us on screen with his straight man vibes and his facial expressions help us understand the kind of character he is portraying. Palmer is stealing all the spotlight with her portrayal as the laid-back sister who is charming and amusing with her bright personality. She ends up becoming the most important factor in the story as the film goes on. Their sibling bond is what holds the film together and you want to care for these two and hope they make it out. We also can’t forget Yuen and Perea delivering perhaps one of their best performances to date. 

Nope sets out exactly what it’s supposed to do, to push boundaries in storytelling and the horror genre it’s based on. It is a love letter to the classic sci-fi films from the 70s and 80s, building off on the tension and thrills that we get from the characters of those times. Just when you think you have expectations of what’s coming, Peele gives you something else that is equally as terrifying as you imagined. Nope is an experience worth seeing on the big screen and is probably one of the best films to come out this year thanks to Peele’s incredible vision and the mesmerizing performances of the cast. It is a wonderful piece of sci-fi art that will stick with you after the credits roll. 

Nope will be released in theaters on July 22nd, 2022.

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