Monday 3 October 2022

Film Review: Nope


, Jordan Peele's third feature film, is a slick sci-fi thriller that asks audiences to look to the skies in search of answers.

Rather than crafting another gnarly horror fable in the same mould as Get Out or Us, Peele has changed tack and come up with something a little dreamier and fantastical. In Nope, Daniel Kaluuya plays introverted Hollywood horse wrangler OJ, who is struggling to keep his father's ranch business afloat after his sudden death.

OJ, along with his effervescent sister Emerald (Keke Palmer), have taken to selling their horses to nearby theme park Jupiter's Claim, run by Jupe (Steven Yeun), a savvy former child star. However, their lives are upended when strange occurrences start afflicting their farm - sudden power outages, unexplained entities spooking their horses. It's all very suss, so they start to formulate a plan to get to the bottom of it. 

Narratively, that's all you really need to know about Nope. The less you know, the better – I'd only seen one teaser trailer beforehand, and had a great time seeing Peele's slick screenplay slot all the puzzle pieces into place. It's slow, in the beginning, but in a good way – a return to the days when filmmakers trusted their audiences to be patient and let the film do its thing.

Thematically, there's quite a bit going on – even if it's not as explicit about those themes as something like Get Out, where it's plain as day.

When you peel back the layers, Nope is grappling with themes like exploitation, spectacle and capitalistic greed, and how those all intersect with tragedy and death. It's about how, even in the face of inexplicable horror, we struggle to look away. There's even religious undertones in here, with explicit Biblical references. 

Behind the camera, Peele collaborates with Hoyte van Hoytema, who brings the same sense of scope and vastness to Nope that he did to Interstellar, Ad Astra and Dunkirk. There's an unmistakable 'scaling up' here; Nope feels much bigger than anything Peele has done before. There's some pretty big influences mixed in here too; shades of Spielberg, Kubrick and Shyamalan.

Kaluuya continues to deliver the goods (when does he not?), and Palmer is a hoot too – the two play very different characters, but share a boatload of sibling charisma. 

Does the film have its pitfalls? Sure, I think it's a little oblique and is deliberately vague on some plot points. It feels like more of a 'mood piece' than something propulsive and watertight like Get Out, so I can see some corners of the audience losing interest or feeling their patience tested. But I didn't mind the deliberate pacing, the inexplicable nature of the central phenomena that plagues the ranch. It all feeds into the cloud of mystery that shrouds the film.  

The Verdict: 8/10

A curious blockbuster that mixes a lot of influences into one big melting pot, Nope feels like Peele striving to broaden his horizons as a storyteller.

Nope is available on home formats now.

1 comment:

  1. I really loved this. I'm glad Peele can make this type of movie now.



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