Runtime: 130mins | Director: Jordan Peele | Rating: 4.5 Stars
In all honesty, we’re not sure where to begin with a review of Jordan Peele’s Nope, simply because there is so much to say about it. What we can say with certainty though, is that Peele is rapidly cementing himself as one of the finest auteurs with skin in the game.
Nope tells the story of OJ Harwood, a man who trains horses for use in Hollywood films along with his sister, Emerald. After their father dies through a freak accident, things only go from bad to worse when they notice a mysterious cloud above their ranch that doesn’t move. They soon enlist the help of technologically savvy, Angel, to help document the phenomenon for the world to see.
As with Get Out in particular, Peele’s debut outing, Nope treads the incredibly fine and difficult line of weaving seamlessly between horror and comedy. One moment you’re laughing a Keke Palmer’s incredibly charismatic performance as Esmerelda, and the next you’re listening to the harrowing screams of people suffocating (which, for the record, has been seared into our minds so thoroughly that it will haunt us for a very long time to come). Being able to integrate the humour so well is not only a skill but serves to amplify the horror further.
Whilst we’ve seen a lot of credible comparisons to Spielberg’s works that no doubt influenced the film (Close Encounters of The Third Kind, E.T., etc), Nope also reminded us of The War of The Worlds and Signs. Two similar Sci-Fi films that were genuinely terrifying, mostly because they focussed on how humans reacted to the invasions, rather than the invasions themselves.
In tradition with Peele’s other films, Nope also features a lot of nuanced social commentary. The focus here being the erasure of Black contributions to the history of filmmaking, and humanity’s obsession with spectacle and our subsequent desensitisation to atrocities that occur (or ‘Bad Miracles’ as they’re labelled in the film). Why do we stare tragedy in the face? Why have we become immune to death and devastation? Nope asks these questions without compromising on creating something highly engaging, comedic, and horrific. No small feat.
There’s also a biting irony in that Nope discusses the dangerous obsession we have with spectacle but is one itself.
Nope, in our opinion, is the second-best film of 2022 so far, trailing only to Everything Everywhere All At Once. Peele establishes himself as a true horror auteur worthy of big budgets and creates something which will stick in your mind days, maybe weeks, after viewing it. Aided by strong performances all round, beautiful cinematography and terrifying sound design, this isn’t a film to be missed.
Written by Jake Sayer