Nope (2022)

Nope (2022)

2022 R 131 Minutes

Horror | Science Fiction | Mystery

Residents in a lonely gulch of inland California bear witness to an uncanny, chilling discovery.

Overall Rating

9 / 10
Verdict: Great

User Review

  • WHAT I LIKED: Much like his previous film 'Us,' Jordan Peele's' 'Nope,' is a film that starts by tentatively building a bunch of mysteries, only to quickly reveal itself into a fight against a ridiculous, unimaginable horror.

    Here the story surrounds a strange object in the sky above OJ (Daniel Kaluuya)'s Hollywood-horse ranch which starts out causing short power outages and spooking horses, then kills his Dad with a strange sharp object. To make things more mysterious, the film cuts such phenomena with scenes of a crazed circus chimp massacring its captors, and wonderfully cinematic close ups of things you can't quite make out, so you're left in suspense for a reveal about what's going on and how everything links or makes a point.

    However, as OJ, his energetic sister (Keke Palmer) and pesky conspiracy theorist (Brandon Perea) point cameras at the sky and offer whatever's up there a plastic fairground horse as bait, it becomes pretty clear pretty quickly that what they're dealing with is basically the stuff of every other alien invasion movie you've ever seen, and the rest of the film then becomes about them finding a variety of creative ways to understand it, lure it down, record it, and take it out.

    That's engaging to some extent because on the one hand the central performances are so great (even though their characters remain pretty unchanged by the unfolding events) and even more so because Peele has so much fun with the cinematic medium; not only teasing and misdirecting the audience's paranoia with small moments of tension that turn out to be nothing, but also riffing on the tropes of the two great American Stevens; Spielberg and King. There are many obvious nods to Close Encounters (along with films like Akira) and much of the action revolves around OJ's Edward Hopper-style house which falls victim to one particulary terrifying assault from the alien.

    WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: The strange thing is though, many of the things the first act spends so much time building tension and intrigue around end up being aimless misdirects of their own. The stuff about the monkey seems to make some mute point about how you "can't tame a predator," but then the threesome do just that at the end. There's a thread about characters cashing in on the spectacle of trauma by filming it, but that never really bears fruit either because the central trio's goal is for survival and revenge. There are even questions teased about why alien chose the ranch at all, or how the monkey was too influenced by a supernatural force, all of which get no logical narrative pay off either, and that all ultimately creates the sense that tension and themes are constantly being built but never delivered upon. That wouldn't be such a problem if the film didn't spend so much of its time developing all of that, as it leaves out room to properly test and delve into its characters too.

    VERDICT: 'Nope,' is a film that constantly misdirects its audience by building tension and themes that more often than not come to nothing. What it loses there though, it more than makes up for it with surface-level entertainment and cinematic spectacle.