Hitting UK cinemas this Friday (having opened in the US in mid-July), is the sci-fi horror movie, Nope. The film – written, directed, and co-produced by Jordan Peele – stars Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Steven Yeun, Brandon Perea, and Michael Wincott, and follows the story of two siblings, who attempt to capture proof of an unidentified flying object (UFO).
In the movie, OJ and Em Haywood are a brother and sister duo who run a business, training and handling horses. They own a ranch in the US, and their special focus is working on projects within the film and television industries.
Following the sudden and mysterious death of their father, who passed away after being struck by a falling object, OJ and Em attempt to keep the family business going. However, after they lose a job due to an incident on set, they become aware things are not looking great.
One night, while at home on their ranch, tyring to decide the best way forward, the pair notice some strange occurrences overhead and believe they have witnessed a UFO. Coming to the conclusion, this ‘close encounter’ could result in untold fame and fortune, they set about trying to capture the alien object on film.
Enlisting the assistance of a technical expert (who works at a local electronics store), as well as a respected cinematographer, the group attempt to prove the existence of extra-terrestrials. But as they soon discover, the situation is incredibly dangerous, and may prove deadly.
Now, for those of us living in the UK, Nope is hitting cinemas this week, as more-or-less the last big movie of the summer. As noted above, Nope is from director Jordan Peele, who previously wrote, helmed, and produced hit horror films, Get Out (2017) and Us (2019), so, this is a notable film, with a notable filmmaker attached.
As such, I expect due to Peele’s name, plus the advertising surrounding the film, Nope will get plenty of bums on seats this weekend, despite the current heatwave we’re experiencing in the UK. As to those who do go and see it, I believe you will feel mostly satisfied with this film, so it is certainly worth a watch.
I say “mostly”, because I have a feeling that some audiences will come away from the film feeling a little unsure. While Nope boasts some great ideas, and a couple of genuinely creepy moments, I believe the story may leave a few people underwhelmed.
I wouldn’t say I was underwhelmed, but I do believe that perhaps Nope falls a little short in places. The film has a great set-up, and some marvellous scenes of spectacle, but I’m not entirely sure it all comes together by the end.
However, the journey is a good one and I can’t fault the pacing, the acting, or the imagery. Even if the pay-off doesn’t quite land, there is much to like in this film.
One of Nope’s greatest strengths is that it gives birth to some very interesting ideas, and nurtures them rather well. Nope knows how to draw in its audience, using tension, suspense, and a sinister hook, and with its mix of sci-fi and horror it plays out very much like an unsettling episode of The Twilight Zone.
In fact, those who are familiar with Peele’s work will know the director was recently involved in the short-lived revival of The Twilight Zone, which aired between 2019 and 2020. So, it is no surprise that Nope feels heavily influenced by the series, coming across almost as a homage.
But this film is very much its own thing, and as with Peele’s previous big screen outings, Get Out and Us, Nope is a picture with some depth. I’m not sure it digs quite as deep as those previous films, but it certainly has something bubbling under the surface.
The movie’s central themes seem to be about exploitation, and humanity’s misunderstanding and disregard for other lifeforms. The film shines the spotlight on our desire to do what is best for us as individuals, rather than to leave well alone, and highlights our complete lack of awareness when it comes to anyone (or anything) else.
The central thrust of the film is the desire to prove the existence of UFOs, and capture some clear and irrefutable proof, irrespective of the dangers. But as audiences will soon see, going looking for aliens does not end well for some of the characters in the movie, and you can’t help but feel they are responsible for their own undoing.
Although this film is very much about aliens, this central theme feeds very much into where we are at present as a society, where TikTokers, social media personalities and ‘celebrities’ often put their own lives at risk in search of ‘likes’ and monetary reward. Sure, they may not be searching for ET in the real-world, but the concept is the same and this comes through in the film.
Nope also touches upon the way in which we as humans think we are in control of a situation, when in reality, we are not. For me, this film looks at the arrogance of this thought process, and the way in which we continually misjudge the world around us.
But these are just a couple of the themes that can be surmised from Nope, and I’m sure other audiences will speak of many more. As with all of Peele’s movie output, Nope is a film that will encourage many discussions post-screening, and this is something which makes him stand-out as an important filmmaker.
So, there is a lot of conversation to be had about the true meaning of Nope, as well as its ideas and themes, and it is here where I believe some audiences will favour the film. However, it is also here where some may feel a little short-changed.
I believe those who want a movie they can delve into, will probably get more out of Nope than those who simply want some scares over the summer season. This isn’t a surface level film horror film, and that’s something which I feel is important to note.
So, my advice is to approach this film in the knowledge that it may not tick every box you’re after, but it should tick most of them. It is a good movie, irrespective of how much you want a big, definitive pay off at its climax, and proves there are still movies out there that want to engage and challenge the audience.
Sure, Nope may not be Peele’s strongest film to date, but it is good stuff, and is sure to provide enough entertainment for those looking for a two-hour escape from the sun. As the summer season begins to wind down, Nope provides a nice little sidestep toward the next season (aka Halloween), where plenty of spooky stuff will no doubt lurk in time.