Los Angeles, CA — “And I will cast abominable filth upon thee, and make thee vile, and will set thee as a spectacle.” -Nahum 3:6
You know a film is not playing around when it starts with a bible verse, and comedian turned horror director Jordan Peele does not play around. He has returned to the silver screen with his heavily anticipated creature feature “Nope” and had audiences captivated. This film, as is with Peele’s earlier work “Get Out” and “Us,” is rife with symbolism, deeper meanings and horror beyond imagination yet still hitting at home for all of us.
Peele’s tale begins by focusing on the brother-sister duo of Otis Jr. (OJ), played by Daniel Kaluuya, and Emerald, portrayed by Keke Palmer. After their father's, Otis Haywood Sr., portrayed by Keith David, mysterious passing, both work at their family business training horses for the screen. Both play foils to each other — Emerald is outgoing and ambitious in her pursuits for fame while OJ is more reserved and quiet as he just wants to preserve his father’s legacy. Steven Yeun rounds out the cast as former child star, Ricky “Jupe” Park, known for starring in a western film named “Kid Sheriff,” and the tragically short lived 90s sitcom “Gordy’s Home,” which featured a live chimpanzee as the eponymous Gordy.
Park is the neighbor of the Haywood’s, the founder and owner of a small western-themed carnival, “Jupiter’s Claim.’’ Brandon Perea portrayed Angel Torres, a wisecracking tech salesman working at Fry’s Electronics who aids the Haywood siblings in their quest to capture footage of the UFO terrorizing their ranch.
Soon, all three characters discover a strange event happening above their town of Agua Dulce, California. Emerald and OJ attempt to discover what is going on. This film spins circles with symbolism, visuals and its allegorical tale of how showbiz can destroy people and the lengths some will go to in order to become famous.
The stand out: Palmer’s performance. She holds down the screen and proves that she is a force to be reckoned with in the horror genre.
Kaluuya is already a Peele veteran with his amazing performance in 2017’s “Get Out,” which earned him an Oscar nomination, but in this film he is a protagonist that I have never seen before. Gone are the days of just screaming at the camera or making dumb decisions, this is a man that was broken by his grief. Done at the world and just wanting to survive and keep his father’s legacy alive.
In the end, “Nope” is a yep from me. With only one nitpick — the pacing can be very slow (running time 2 hours and 10 minutes) when it comes to the scares, but as the film is more of atmospheric horror, it works well. Peele continues to push the horror genre further and creates a film more akin to “Jaws,” rather than “Halloween.”
This is not the type of film you can make a house for at Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights. This is the type of movie you sip like a fine wine, and as you wake up in the morning and stare at the clouds, be sure that they all move.
9.5/10 galloping horses.