This review contains spoilers.
Jordan Peele’s third written and directed studio film Nope was a triumphant success over its opening weekend ranking in an estimated $44 million at the box office, but that’s no surprise. Since his directorial debut with Get Out in 2017, which earned him an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, Peele’s work has been revered as a filmmaker who will leave an immortal impression in Hollywood. Ironically enough, many of the themes in his recent work of Nope mirror that very sentiment.

Nope stars Peele’s muse Daniel Kaluuya as OJ Haywood who runs a family-owned business with his father, Otis Haywood Sr. (Keith David) and younger sister Emerald Haywood (Keke Palmer) at a lonely gulch in inland California. For years, their family trained horses which appeared in dozens of Hollywood films. Their legacy in the industry dates back to the first assembly of photos captured on film to create motion picture which was a man riding a horse. When an unexpected tragedy happens, the Haywood siblings take over the family business and aim to keep their legacy alive, but things get interesting from there. Peele takes a simple belief of extraterrestrial life and flips it on its head in his latest work. The twists and turns of Get Out and Peele’s follow up directing work in Us (2019) should not be at the top of your mind going into Nope.

Photo by Universal Pictures


The film opens on the set of a 1990’s-esque sitcom which is later revealed as a series called “Gordy’s Home.” This isn’t your typical studio set because there’s no audience, the room is silent, and a monkey is seen bloodied up hovering a body. What happened? You will find out later in the film. After the opening title sequence, we first meet OJ and his dad working on their horse ranch. A strange occurrence happens when metal objects begin to fall out of the sky. One of those items – a nickel – fatally impales Otis Sr. in the eye.

Left with the burden of tending to their failing business due to the limited use of needing live animals on set, OJ is forced to sell his horses to “Jupiter’s Claim,” a neighboring carnival attraction ran by former “Gordy’s Home” child star Ricky ‘Jupe’ Park (Steven Yeun). It turns out that random sitcom scene was the aftermath of Gordy the monkey becoming spooked on set and going on a rampage that left an actress disfigured, cast and crew dead, and Jupe traumatized.

Photo by Universal Pictures

It seems like a lot is happening, but the pacing of the beginning of the film is slow. The one thing I did like was how Nope was broken down into chapters, five to be exact, each named after an animal in the film. I thought they would have a significant meaning behind naming the chapters after them, but to me it did not, or I did not notice it.

When the electricity shorts out one night at the Haywood ranch, a UFO is spotted by OJ swooping around the clouds. With this discovery of potential alien life, OJ and Emerald don’t fear this object, but instead decide to capture it on film for profit. Here we meet Angel Torres (Brandon Perea), an employee at Fry’s Electronics, who becomes an intricate part of OJ and Emerald’s plan to get the object on camera. After some convincing, notable cinematographer Antlers Holst (Michael Wincott) joins the team to get the perfect shot, “the Oprah shot,” of the encounter.

Photo by Universal Pictures

By the middle of Nope, it’s revealed that what is perceived in the film’s trailer as a UFO is ultimately an alien creature shapeshifted to look like a flying saucer. It takes pleasure in devouring anything and everything in its path while discarding things that are no longer use to it, much like Hollywood’s practice of consuming and exploiting what is deemed “in” and trashing the rest. Hollywood is constantly looking for the next big spectacle; that can be said of the audience as well. Are we the monster? We chew and eat up what we find appetizing in the moment, and shut out what we don’t like when it goes against our projected perceptions.

I know many have praised the performances in this film, especially of 28-year-old Keke Palmer claiming this to be her breakout role, but often, Keke was playing Keke. The animated storyteller that garners up to 13 million social media followers is one of the most beloved talents of young Hollywood, but I would hardly call this her breakout role due to Nope‘s limited opportunities to give Keke the chance to stretch her acting abilities. This really was not that type of movie. Nope is filled with several comedic aspects, compelling sound mixing, and a visually stunning backdrop thanks to the director of photography Hoyte Van Hoytema, but this is a straight up Sci-fi picture with no major dynamics that would warrant stand out performances.

Photo by Universal Pictures
Photo by Universal Pictures

I will say I’m a self-proclaimed horror fan. I love and enjoy the genre so much, so it takes a certain level to really scare me or leave me unsettled. There were no aspects of true horror for me in Nope; no jump scares or imagery that would keep me up at night, but that’s the thing about Jordan Peele. He has taken the definition of horror to mean something different. These are horrors that can be found in the realities of life, and that’s what he shines light on versus things that go bump in the night.

Many try to compare Jordan Peele to other filmmakers, but the truth is, he’s in a lane of his own. He’s constantly producing original ideas leaving social media in shambles for weeks upon weeks trying to decipher hidden messages that might not necessarily be there. Jordan Peele is a puppet master of horror coming up with unique ideas as he sits back and watches the masses dissect his work. He creates art that’ll make you think, and much like art, it is subjective. One thing remains true; his work will leave you so imprinted that a once mundane encounter like a spoon clinking a teacup, a pair of scissors, or simply a cloud that has not moved in the sky will leave a lasting impression.

I give Nope 3/5 stars.

Did you check out Nope over the weekend? How did you like the film and what messages did you pick up on? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


Amber Dover is a multimedia journalist with over a decade writing about pop culture. Cat mom with a deep love of horror, you can follow Amber at @Glambergirlblog on Instagram and Twitter.

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