Nope - New Release Review
Director: Jordan Peele
Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Brandon Perea, Steven Teun, Keith David
Written by: Jordan Peele
Produced by: Jordan Peele, Ian Cooper,
Cinematography by: Hoyte Van Hoytema
Original Score by: Michael Abels
The residents of a lonely gulch in inland California bear witness to an uncanny and chilling discovery.
It’s been quite the decade for Jordan Peele, from hilarious sketches in the hit series ‘Key and Peele’ (“Aerobics Meltdown” being my personal favourite) to hit horror movies like ‘Get Out’ and ‘Us’, Peele has cemented himself as a powerhouse filmmaker in Hollywood. With ‘Get Out’, he was able to show us true terror...meeting your new in laws (who just so happen to be brain removing weirdos!) With ‘Us’, we were shown that true evil is just bubbling below the surface of everyday Americans. Now with ‘Nope’, Peele explores something more alien, putting his stamp on a sub-genre that can be very hit or miss. Thankfully, ‘Nope’ is a major hit and delivers something we haven't seen all summer; a blockbuster that knows how to present a spectacle!
The film stars Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer as brother/sister business partners, OJ and ‘Em’ Haywood, who run the oldest horse training ranch in Hollywood (Haywood’s Hollywood Horses). They find themselves on hard times as Hollywood is more willing to use CGI horses over the real thing, leading them to maybe pack up and sell their family business to Ricky Park (Steven Yeun), former child star of the classic sitcom 'Gordy’s House', who now runs an old west style theme park near the Haywood ranch. Peele creates his most likeable characters here, with OJ being the strong silent type and Em being full of personality, they make a perfect team and the chemistry between the actors really shines through. Even Yeun, who plays a kinda villian-ish role here, often comes off as likeable and when you find out more of his backstory, you begin to feel sad for him.
The overall themes of the movie are ‘how far is someone willing to go to get famous?’ and how we trivialise life changing events so we can mentally deal with them. Two heavy subjects that I feel are brilliantly handled. They depict an event that happened on the set of the sitcom ‘Gordy’s House’, that to me, was truly unsettling. It's presented by Steven Yeun’s character as a light hearted story, but through Yeun’s acting and the scenes shown, it is absolutely terrifying and maybe one of the realest depictions of horror I've seen in years.
The ‘how far will someone go to get famous’ aspect is maybe my one negative part of the film. In the third act, (slight spoilers) a TMZ reporter turns up to the ranch to get footage of what’s happening and it felt too on the nose. The film focuses a lot on a struggling black family, who are putting their lives on the line to save themselves and their business and to throw in a character from a gossip outlet trying to “get the scoop” felt really out of place.
Peele is known for his social commentary in his films and in ‘Nope’ I feel like it’s the best use of it. In the film, if the characters don’t look at the horror of what’s happening, then it won't hurt them. While it’s very literal here, I love this use of commentary for the society we live in today. So many terrible things happen around the world, but if we don’t look at it, it can’t hurt us. It’s simple, but really effective.
‘Nope’ truly is a spectacle to watch, I saw it on a regular cinema screen but I can’t wait to see it on IMAX. Many people have compared it to some Steven Spielberg classics like ‘Jaws’ and ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’, and while I can see that, this is something completely new. With fantastic black leads, a razor-sharp script and a visually stunning look, Peele has shown that he’s not a one trick pony. ‘Nope’ isn’t just Spielberg-esque, it’s Jordan Peele at the top of his game showing us that he’s the new king of the summer blockbuster.
- Adam Neeson
'Nope' is released in UK cinemas August 12th