After the acclaimed Get Out and the divisive Us, auteur-in-the-making Jordan Peele is back with ominous alien invasion horror Nope. This angle was hinted at but hidden in the initial trailers – much like the UFO (“they’re called UAPs now”) in the film – but Nope proves to be a thoroughly refreshing take on the genre.
Living in a desolate Californian gulch, introverted brother OJ and his extroverted sister Em (Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer on top form) have fallen on hard times following the death of their father from a freak accident. To make ends meet, OJ sells the horses his family trained for use in films to local theme park owner Jupe (Steven Yeun), a former child star who once witnessed his co-stars being horrifically mauled by a startled chimpanzee called Gordy. Gordy’s rampage serves as a mysterious subplot within the film, and although it’s not clear at first, ties in with themes of trying to train predators/wild animals and the price of spectacle and exploitation.
After noticing strange things in the sky, OJ and Em try to capture the phenomena on camera with the help of famed cinematographer Antlers Holst (Michael Wincott) and their local electronics store tech guy Angel (Brandon Perea). Things take a much darker turn, however, and what starts as a bid for fame and fortune ends up in a fight for survival.
Whilst Nope nods to – and borrows from – other well-known ‘alien invasion’ films (Signs, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and War of the Worlds), as well as pop-culture horror (Tremors, Poltergeist), it also manages to be its own unique film, with genuinely impressive twists and well-timed comedy. Like any good horror, it sets up some ‘rules’, although a couple of these are broken within the same film. A lot of questions are left unanswered, but enough to make you think, and hope for a deserved sequel.
Post-pandemic, many directors are focusing on spectacle and entertainment, and visually and aurally, Nope delivers with Peele managing to weave this into a compelling story.
A solid ‘Yep’ for Nope.
Nope is in UK cinemas from August 12th