[This post contains mild spoilers.]
One of the most anticipated and hyped horror films of 2022.
Jordan Peele – comedian, actor, producer, screenwriter, filmmaker, had been one of the most promising talents in horror cinema ever since his 2017 directorial debut Get Out, which was praised and awarded everywhere: well developed characters, who formed a story as solid as they themselves, filled with social commentary told from the perspective of historically underrepresented voices in the cinema, which wasn’t exactly “foreign” or “independent”. The voice was strong, well trained and distinct. You can hear it in Us as well as in the last year’s Candyman movie, which Peele co-wrote and which, if you ask me, is one of the best sequels I’ve happened to have ever watched. A substantial perspective, preferably with an added interesting dimension to it is, in my opinion, everything when it comes to a story being told, and, I think, Jordan Peele’s skill of doing just that is the main reason why his new film Nope is a must see for every horror fan.
Nope movie promotional still. Source
The following is written with an assumption that the reader has spotted Nope movie being called a UFO horror elsewhere online. The film is indeed exploiting the gruesome stories of alien abduction, which form the basis of films such as The Fourth Kind (starring Milla Jovovich in an unusual for her role) with meticulous, well refined delivery of the terror from the above. Jordan Peele has managed to achieve that with certain originality; not only in regards to the antagonist’s ability to disguise itself – the UFO in this film differs from one in an average abduction story as well. I think exactly the form the difference takes had been one of the main points Peele had intended to make, letting you test the strength and power of your own imagination, which in turn boosts the power of his whole creative endeavour here. What if you yourself, and perhaps your whole family were the alien conspiracy theorists? What if the thing that abducted you was your imagination, and subsequent hysteria, then obsession, and you could be so drawn into all that that it could eventually kill you..?
Nope. It definitely isn’t a mushroom and confetti... It’s aliens. No denial here. Nope.
Daniel Kaluuya in Nope movie. Source
Get Out’s Daniel Kaluuya (sometimes wearing Rage Against the machine t-shirt) is starring alongside Scream Queen Keke Palmer (sometimes wearing The Jesus Lizard t-shirt). Kaluuya’s OJ Haywood spends a lot of time with horses. Haywood ranch is where the family business called Haywood Hollywood Horses is being ran, providing trained horses for movies and other entertainment. OJ is a character of few words, which, I guess, is why his sister, Palmer’s "Em" Emerald is one to take the lead when it comes to conversations. That leaves OJ the role of an observer, who's uttering of the interjection "mhm" can spell more than if he was to blabber on about how, for instance, children of the night make a sweet music. This is in a way consistent with Get Out, where Kaluuya’s character was an acclaimed photographer, spotting details with his observant eyes rather than getting sense of everything by means of conversations. This brings us to visual arts, and that is what connects all three of the following: the new Candyman movie (where the lead character is a painter), Get Out and Nope: the Act 1 of Peele’s new film notably deals with geekery regarding video and film production, which is then being dealt with again in the Act 3. While the first part of the film consists more of the things that supposedly have taken place in the past, the Act 3 sees a filmmaker named Antlers Holst capturing the latest local sensation. Holst is played by the main bad guy in both, The Crow and Alien: Resurrection – Michael Wincott, who in this movie delivers a performance of sardonic director looking for “stuff that dreams are made of” in a footage featuring wild animals, and wildlife in general, being dispassionate about everything but the “impossible” shot. With lines like “as exquisitely stupid as that” and “who is this as**ole” reaffirming Wincott as a natural like that, you know Jordan Peele has nailed yet another aspect of Nope.
Keke Palmer in Nope movie. Source
Nope could have been a serious, terrific horror flick. The whole UFO part is worthy the hype the film had received – not only because of how incredibly powerful the menace in the night skies had been created, but also how well the backdrop for one of its spectacles had been designed, namely, the whole Jupiter's Claim Western theme town with its helium balloon mascot prop. That set is nothing short of gorgeous, taking into account the mood and theme of Nope. Gordy the chimp however overshadows the UFO, and, unfortunately, the UFO and the animal, while each doing great on their own, just don't fit very well together, telling me that there could have been two different films here: one of them a UFO terror piece, and another one about the exploitation taken to extremes in filmmaking and tv show production. Did someone say the word?
On a final note here I would like to mention that, half way through the film while watching Nope the first time, I was wondering if Jordan Peele had already thought of producing a sequel. The hallucinatory and phantasmagoric nature of the UFO, in my humble opinion, could still be turned into something more terrifying in a sequel, not entirely discarding the possibility it was more of a mind trick and mass hallucination than a real thing in the original movie. I am thinking of The Mind Parasites – a novel by late Colin Wilson, who's The Space Vampires was turned into Lifeforce movie, directed by Tobe Hooper back in 1980s, and, I think, Wilson really deserves more than two movie adaptations. The UFO part in Nope is, in my opinion, simply too good to not be put into a more serious horror context. Yup.
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