Jordan Peele has quickly become one of the most exciting directors in Hollywood. Despite initially being recognized for his work in comedy—or perhaps precisely because of that—it’s in the horror genre that he’s really come into his own. Flees! (get-out), his 2017 film, opened our eyes to a new way of shocking the audience by showing a variant of racism that we rarely talk about. His next work Us (Us), was more divisive, but just as intriguing. In this review of her third film, nope! (nope) we are going to discover if this filmmaker has already burned his talent or if we can already declare him as a new master of terror.
This movie intrigued us from the first time we saw it the mysterious poster with a very particular cloud. Its curious title did not make anything clear either and the first trailer did not really reveal what was the horror that the protagonists were fleeing. It’s a shame that some of the trailers that followed showed “too much”, as the surprises this film holds have much more impact when presented in the right context.
After the death of his father in a freak accident, OJ Haywood was left practically alone in charge of a horse ranch, dedicated to training those animals for Hollywood productions. His sister Emerald doesn’t seem interested in the business and things are going very bad financially. But strange things begin to happen and the pair of brothers believes that this may be the opportunity they were waiting for to achieve fame and fortune.
As in the previous works of this director, nope! requires some initial patience. For more than an hour, the film is dedicated to calmly introducing the characters, making clear their motivations and the nature of the relationships between them while “something strange” plays out in the background.
All of this is important to tell a good story, but we have to warn you because a significant part of the horror movie audience wants to see scares and violence from the first minute. This is not one of those films, but those who know how to wait and can appreciate the nature of the drama will be very well rewarded.
Once the apparent nature of that “strange thing” is revealed, the film follows a more agile and familiar rhythm. He does not resort to scares or violence —although he has a little of both— but is more concerned with managing tension. The characters in this film face a truly original and unknown threat, so we discover with them what is stalking them and what their capabilities are. Horror fans are all too familiar with the tropes of the genre and finding ourselves back on unfamiliar ground is a really fresh experience.
This is a type of “monster” that we don’t see very often. We dare not say it’s brand new, but it feels like it is. In a certain way it can be said that it is a Tremors conversely, in which the danger comes from the sky, not from the ground.
But the “monster” wouldn’t be as effective if we didn’t feel anything for the people it threatens. The Haywood brothers are played by Daniel Kaluuya (Run away, Black Panther) and the beautiful Keke Palmer. Their personalities completely collide and offer a fun filial dynamic in which, despite everything, the affection for each other is palpable. They are accompanied by a technical support expert played by Brandon Perea who does a good job although sometimes it seems like he’s not enough. We also have the great Michael Wincott in the role of an eccentric cinematographer who seems like a necessary parody of Werner Herzog.
On the other hand is Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead, Burning) as Ricky “Jupe” Park, a Wild West theme park owner who refuses to part with the success he had years before as a child star. His story seems somewhat separate from the main plot, but it is key to understanding the film’s themes.
nope! It begins by showing an event that occurred many years ago, in a tragedy that occurred during the recording of a popular family comedy. We’re not going to reveal the details because it’s worth each viewer to find out for themselves. In many ways, flashbacks to this event can be even scarier than the main story.
Tragedies are the order of the day in this film and Jordan Peele presents us with an interesting thesis around them. He tells us that we cannot stop looking at them, that we turn them into a spectacle. ¡nope! seems like a strong criticism against this world in which everything must be converted into “content”. Even the worst parts of our lives, even our traumas, are used as an excuse to post on Twitter or are turned into a TikTok video.
The film also talks about the relationship of animals with the entertainment world and the abuse of the working class in it. All of this, of course, is just our interpretation of the movie. If you understood it differently, we await your theories in the comments.
This is also a very striking work on a visual level. The story takes place mainly in a desert area near Los Angeles, which lends itself to wide shots that make the characters feel very small, especially considering the threat they face. This entity is also impressive, especially in the last act. The most ‘geeky’ viewers will also really enjoy a couple of visual references to the world of ‘anime’.
nope! It is a film that we wholeheartedly recommend. If you go to see her looking for pure terror, you may be a little disappointed – especially because of her “slow” opening act – but nonetheless offers a deep story and a “monster” that will be difficult to forget.
It is likely that, despite its many strengths, this film will remain living in the shadow of the great Flees! But we do not hesitate to join the voices that declare that Jordan Peele is a true master of horror.