Nerdlocker Movie Review: NOPE

“Two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.” – Arthur C. Clarke

If you would have told me at the peak of Key & Peele that one of its stars would one day be one of the most sought after horror creators I likely wouldn’t believe a word you say. I’m not always a fan of surprises but this is certainly a welcome revelation. I was introduced to Peele’s darker work much in the same way I was with Rian Johnson. When the trailer for Looper was everywhere I was less than excited. It looked awful. Needless to say the trailer didn’t do the movie any favors. It was basically the same thing with Get Out; its trailer portrayed it as something not just forgettable but laughable at best. Luckily through early word of mouth it was given its time to shine and is now considered one of the best modern day horror films of the last twenty years. His success would prove to be anything but a fluke with Us, a highly disturbing, unwaveringly intense thriller that condemned and questioned some of our most dire shortcomings as human beings.

With his first two films he proved not only a viable horror creator but also a filmmaker with intent and a message in hopes to subvert expectation and leave his audiences in deep thought as they exit the theater. After two home runs naturally everyone couldn’t wait to see what he had for us next. Now we know and let me tell you, it is something to behold. Nope is all kinds of yes.

In the first five minutes of Nope, Peele establishes a tone that signifies nothing has changed and he fully intends to bring us into his world, blood and mayhem alike. This feels like Peele at his most playful, repeatedly leading us along a path of familiarity only to abruptly change course, shocking us every step of the way. If Us left any doubt about his skill and tenacity behind the camera, Nope should quiet those still in doubt. Bringing in talent like cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema is one massive tell to the Hollyweird elite that horror is no longer the outsider looking in; it is a genre to be taken as serious as any drama or musical. I believe with creators like Peele and (Ari) Aster and Flanagan we are in a horror renaissance. It’s a great time to be a horror fan, that’s for sure.

With all the talent behind the lens, it’s no wonder he was able to bring that magic front and center. Nope features his Get Out alum, Daniel Kaluuya as the placid brother, OJ and Keke Palmer as the polar opposite sister, Emerald ‘Em’. Together they cover the spectrum of calm but concerned to full blown meltdown in the face of some truly terrifying discoveries made on their newly inherited ranch. The question of “are we alone” comes forth only to be replaced by “what the hell should we do about it?” This is one major incident with world altering implications and so far two siblings and an electronics’ store employee are the only ones aware of what idles above. In an era of internet mistruths, they’re going to need a lot more than a grainy video of some alleged extraterrestrial happenings to convince anyone of anything.

When asked about a movie and what it reminds you of, it’s easiest to compare it to movies you’ve seen in the past; or other filmmakers with efforts similar in tone or style. I’m sure with more time I could come up with more comparisons but the most obvious to me are the similarities to M. Night Shyamalan (at the height of his powers), Steven Spielberg and Hitchcock himself. Nope is a concoction of Signs, Close Encounters and a myriad of Hitchcockian thrillers. But rather than get lost in the icons of cinema, Peele took these elements and combined them with his own style of undoing the expected and finding the meaning behind the words and themes relating to the modern era. Not to mention the hilarity of Nope that always feels genuine and perfectly placed never undermining the severity of the situation these characters find themselves in.

The Black Phone is one of my favorite thrillers of 2022 and Nope is now in the conversation. It is beyond thrilling, at times unbelievably scary and tense and never loses its focus of shock and awe. It is funny and relatable to anyone with siblings. It takes an extraordinary occurrence and throws the most common of people into the mix and lets the chaos reign in unreal fashion. It is a gorgeous looking film elevating the thrills tenfold. It features fantastically honest performances from its cast that are both predator and prey; the trick is to find out which one they are before those above decide for them. Nope is phenomenal. Nope is riveting. Nope is a movie designed to be seen. Again and again.

Rated R For: language throughout and some violence/bloody images
Runtime: 135 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi
Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Brandon Perea, Steven Yeun
Directed By: Jordan Peele

Out of 10 Nerdskulls
Story: 9/ Acting: 9/ Directing: 10/ Visuals: 10
OVERALL: 10 Nerdskulls

Buy to Own: Yes.

Check out the trailer below:

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Chase Gifford

"Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world"-Jean-Luc Godard