(from left) OJ Haywood (Daniel Kaluuya), Emerald Haywood (Keke Palmer) and Angel Torres (Brandon Perea) in Nope, written, produced and directed by Jordan Peele.

Review: Jordan Peele’s Nope

By: Robert Prentice
Jordan Peele

Jordan Peele has made himself a household name with his previous films “Get Out” and “Us”. From the way he handles horror to the simple titles of his film, Peele has a knack for deeper film storytelling. So when the newest poster and name-dropped for his latest film, it came as no surprise. Nope clearly had a more sci-fi twist to it from the trailers, and we are all in for it. So let’s check out the synopsis for it (which is also short and sweet) and the trailer. Then we will dive into our review.

“What’s a bad miracle?”

Review

The film starts out with a rather dark opening scene, which we have no context for. It becomes more clear later on what all of it meant and how it’s all connected, but that scene haunts your thoughts for the first 30 min of the film until the tension starts to crank up to 1000 shortly into the film. The cast for the film did a great job helping build tension through what we saw on their face, and not always what they said. Though Kaluuya, who plays the brother, has several scenes where his reaction is too out of touch with the tension of the scene leaving it feeling a little awkward. However, that gripe aside, the level of tension in those scenes is so high, that it barely distracts.

Each character has a different approach to handling what is happening around them. The brother, who wants to treat things like he treats the horses. The sister, who is ready to rough things up and GTFO at the same time, the techy who can’t look away, and the cinematographer who is determined to get that ultimate shot. Steven Yeun plays a roadshow personality who has a traumatized past that is kept shrouded until the final moments, but the way he coups with it is very interesting.

Of course, everyone is inspired by something when it comes to filmmaking. Peele is no exception. Call-outs to some famous sci-fi movies of the past are present as the director shows off the things he enjoys and that inspire him. Firstly a scene that is reminiscent of 1993’s Fire In The Sky was one that at the height of the tension of the film’s middle point was made even more creepy with the sound editing (which I will get into more later). The film also worked at its most basic boiled-down element as a classic alien flick similar to Tremors (the original film, not the later junk). Turns out based on recent interviews, that Peele loves Tremors. Peele also manages to go back to the basics of a good sci-fi film and build tension by revealing as little as possible about the big bad for as long as possible. Jaws is a great example of that type of build-up, and I very much felt that as we sat glued to the screen. There were so many more callbacks it’s difficult to call them all out. Which ones did you catch throughout the film?

Now let’s talk about sound editing. If there was a way to give this film an award for being able to tell an entire story, tension, and all through sound alone, Nope would be at the top of that very short list. Sound is so incredibly important in science fiction films, or really most films, but especially science fiction at setting a scene. It helps to build tension or lull the viewer into a sense of calm before grabbing you without notice. Every little thing from the background sounds, the lack of sound in certain scenes, or the sheer monstrous sound as our key moments play out, just shakes the viewer to their core.

Now, without spoilers, the film never explains the why or the how. Frankly, it didn’t need to. In the best way possible, Nope comes out just being in the moment and letting the audience try to unravel the why and the how on our own. The film does pose some bigger questions. But you know what? None of that matters. And that is the beauty of this film.

Go into Nope open-minded and with the curiosity that science fiction offers the viewer.  This is a film that between the visuals and the sound editing you MUST go see this in IMAX. Especially considering the film was shot with IMAX cameras, making the best experience in theaters.

Nope hits theaters July 22nd.

Rating: A

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