Film Review – Nope (2022)

Over the short space of five years, Jordan Peele has fast becoming one of the go to film-makers in metaphorical genre cinema. Call it psychological horror or horror with brains he’s doing something that’s open society’s eyes. Nope is his third foray into genre film-making empirical uncertainty.

Jordan Peele is a comedian/actor who for years made a name for himself in comedy with Keegan Michael-Key. In 2017 Peele took his first steps into film making directing the satirical shocker caught everyone by surprise. Blending social and racial injustice and inequality into chiller. That good it won Peele an Oscar for best screenplay.

Two years later The body swapping horror US, may have dropped down a notch or two with expectations so high for this one. It was a bit of a head scratcher that confuse but left dread at the same time that we all may have a doppelganger out there. A film full of allegorical symbolisms like the title. Was the title referring to ‘us’ the people or ‘U.S’ as in the country? It was a terrifying political statement on how black and white Americans interacted in society. The final outcome an unflinching, uncomfortable watch.

British actor Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out) OJ who is reunited after a tragic event with his sister Emerald (Keke Palmer) who inherit their father’s Hollywood horse-wrangling company. OJ helped his father at the ranch but didn’t look like he knew what he was doing at times. As for Em (as she likes to be called), clueless nowhere to be seen when her father was alive. The company (called Haywood’s Hollywood Horses ) trained horses for use in film and television, the only black owned business in the industry.

The pair start to notice strange things happening around the ranch and decide to purchase some security cameras. In the hope of getting that ultimate shot of potential UFO or as Em calls it the ‘Oprah (Winfrey) Shot’. They get the help from tech shop assistant (Brandon Perea) along with renowned cinematographer (Michael Wincott) to shoot the lucrative footage.

There is also a side story that ties into the Nope’s themes that involves theme Park owner Ricky Park (The Walking Dead’s Steven Yuen). A former Child Television star who now runs the nearby Jupiter’s Claim Western theme Park. Scarred by the events of his childhood events on Television involving Gordy the Chimpanzee. He’s aware not all is good in the area and those responsible are Not of Planet Earth (aka NOPE).

Nope sadly is one heck of a train wreck. It’s not a particularly bad film, it’s not good either. Peele showcases a lot of ambition like tying the early days of moving image with connecting Eadweard Muybridge’s Horse In Motion. The Black jockey connected (fictionally) as an ancestral relative to OJ and Em that no one knew his name. Also at the same time he also tries to cram so much into the (2hour plus) running time. Many of those questions it attempts to answer felt half done or even faded into the distance like driftwood, forgotten about. Leaving you uninspired.

Are they aliens or something else? We never truly learn or teased if they are, when did they arrive on our planet. All we learn is they (or it) live in the clouds and swoop in when they are hungry. The one possible suggestion of what they maybe is the ‘thing’ is a metaphor of capitalism. What it feeds on is what would give financial reward and when greed is unleashed, the thing is that major company swoops in eats the small companies up. Capitalism also wants to put a price tag on everything monopolise everything (the Cameras, mobile phones, internet, etc…). Even Hollywood itself is not protected either, leaving only a few big players making everything.

Nope you could argue has been ‘mis-sold’ as a horror. You could argue same can be said about calling it a sci-fi thriller. This takes the film into M Night Shyamalan Territory and Signs (2002). Even when a character calls the aliens as ‘viewers’ is the film actually talking more about alienation rather than visitors from outer space?

Nope visually impressive all thanks to Cinematograher hoyte van hoytema (Tenet, Ad Astra, Dunkirk). Peele wears his ambitions on his sleeve proudly and at times is not scared to provoke debate. Thanks to a mediocre script and half baked answered questions, the final third of the film leaves you asking ‘what am I actually watching’?. The answer is an Incoherent mess.

★★

Horror, Mystery | USA, 2022 | 15 | 12th August 2022 (UK) | Cinema | Universal Pictures | Dir.Jordan Peele | Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Steven Yuen, Michael Wincott, Brandon Perea, Keith David

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