Monday, August 08, 2022



Written and directed by Jordan Peele, Nope is the story of two siblings who both investigate the death of their father who was killed by an object in the sky as they believe that it might involve UFOs. The film is an exploration about mysterious events in the sky where two ranch-owning siblings seek help from various people that relates to this event where people are killed for looking up. Starring Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Steven Yeun, Brandon Perea, Barbie Ferreira, Donna Mills, Wrenn Schmidt, Keith David, and Michael Wincott. Nope is a horrifying yet intense film from Jordan Peele.

The film revolves around the mysterious death of a ranch owner after a nickel fell down onto his eye as his two adult children deal with not just what happened but also a mysterious object in the sky that is wreaking havoc on their small town near Los Angeles. It is a film that play into these two siblings who deal with what happened to their father but also disappearances around them including a few of their horses. Jordan Peele’s screenplay is largely straightforward though it opens with a quote from the Bible in Nahum 3:6 as it relates to exploitation as the first scene shown revolves around a monkey named Gordy (Terry Notary) who wreaked havoc on a soundstage during a TV show taping as it then cuts to the present where Otis Haywood Sr. (Keith David) is tending to his horse ranch as it is one of the few black-owned ranches that works with Hollywood as Haywood trains horses alongside his son Otis Jr. aka OJ (Daniel Kaluuya).

After Otis Sr.’s death, OJ is struggling to keep the family business afloat with his sister Emerald “Em” Haywood (Keke Palmer) who is more interested in selling it altogether as she is more of a free-spirit while OJ is more serious. Even as he had sold horses to a former child star/western theme-park owner Ricky “Jupe” Park (Steven Yeun) to keep his ranch afloat where the behavior of a few of their horses and their eventual disappearance prompt the siblings to buy some security tech as they get help from a tech store employee in Angel Torres (Brandon Perea) who would discover some things that both OJ and Em are suspecting. Even when Jupe would have an encounter during one of his shows that became the catalyst for OJ, Em, and Angel to take action as they sought the help of the renowned yet eccentric cinematographer Antlers Holst (Michael Wincott) who is resistant at first until he heard about an incident as he wants to capture footage of this mysterious alien object that is causing a lot of trouble.

Peele’s direction is definitely vast in terms of not just its imagery and usage of 65mm film stock for IMAX but also in creating a world that is this strange mix of the western, horror, and suspense with bits of humor. Shot on location in Agua Dulce near Los Angeles, the film does play into this air of intrigue as it has chapter breaks named after some of the horses that the Haywoods own as well as the monkey Gordy and the eventual name they give to this mysterious alien spaceship. The usage of wide and medium shots do play into the setting of the location as well as in some unique tracking shots that Peele create to help play into the sense of wonderment and horror. Notably as Peele doesn’t show the object in full at first but rather through wide shots for brief seconds as it’s more about what is happening on the ground where he would use close-ups to get a reaction from OJ and Em at different points in the film. The scenes that relate to the young Jupe and his encounter with this chimpanzee named Gordy for a TV show alludes to the film’s opening text and what happened during a film shoot where one of Haywood’s horses got agitated all because of a sound.

Even during the second act where Jupe is holding a show yet also has an exhibit about the incident which he pays tourists a lot of money to see this exhibit. His show is a key moment as it play into exactly what this UFO really is as it is far more sinister in the way it treats everyone with OJ, Em, and Angel also getting a closer look at this mysterious thing as it would arrive to drain out whatever electrical power it encounters. Its third act that involves Holst do play into the idea of how to trap this monster as it doesn’t just play into using technology and horses as bait but also to figure out what is it they’re dealing with. Its climax is grand and intense in terms of the stakes but also what a few characters would do to get a shot of this mysterious creature with the resources they have. Overall, Peele crafts an exhilarating and mesmerizing film about two ranch-owning siblings trying to uncover a mysterious creature not of planet Earth.

Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema does phenomenal work with the film’s cinematography with its emphasis on some low-key natural lighting for some of the exterior scenes at night as well as its naturalistic look for the daytime scenes while using some lights for some of the interior scenes. Editor Nicholas Monsour does excellent work with the editing as it does have some style in a few montages and some jump-cuts to play into the suspense and horror while also being straightforward to play into the reaction as well as in the long shots. Production designer Ruth de Jong, with set decorator Gene Serdena and art director Samantha Englender, does amazing work with the look of the home and ranch that the Haywoods own as well as Jupe’s own western theme park with all of its attractions. Costume designer Alex Bovaird does fantastic work with the costumes as it is largely straightforward with the exception of the cowboy costumes that Jupe and his wife wears for their show.

Makeup designer Shutchai Tym Buacharern and prosthetics designer Vincent Van Dyke do terrific work with the look of a character that is a guest of Jupe at his show who would also witness this strange phenomenon. Visual effects supervisor Guillaume Rocheron does brilliant work with some of the visual effects such as the motion-capture work of the chimpanzee Gordy as well as the look of the alien creature that is designed by John O. Dabiri as it has this unique look as well as what it looked like from the inside. Sound designer Johnnie Burn does superb work with the sound as he creates unique sound effects and some of the way music sounds and how it would slow down whenever the power goes down as it is a highlight of the film. The film’s music by Michael Abels is incredible for its rich orchestral score that has elements of bombast but also themes that play up to the suspense and horror while music supervisor Krishna Bissessar creates a soundtrack that largely feature music that is played on location including some hip-hop, pop, and R&B that include pieces from Corey Hart, Dionne Warwick, the Lost Generation, and a strange acapella rendition of The Purple People Eater by Michael Wincott.

The casting by Carmen Cuba is wonderful as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from Oz Perkins as a commercial director, Eddie Jemison as an assistant director, Jacob Kim as a young Jupe, Andrew Patrick Ralston and Jennifer Lafleur as a couple of young Jupe’s costars, Sophia Coto as the young Jupe’s teenage costar, Devon Graye as a TMZ reporter wearing a weird helmet who appears late in the film, Donna Mills as an actress for the commercial, the trio of Lincoln Lambert, Pierce Kang, and Roman Gross as Jupe and Amber’s kids, Barbie Ferriera as Angel’s co-worker, and Terry Notary in a terrific performance via motion-capture as the chimpanzee Gordy who goes nuts during a taping of his show. Wrenn Schmidt is fantastic as Jupe’s wife Amber who works with him for his shows as well as knowing that he’s doing what he can to make money out of his own trauma. Keith David is excellent as Otis Haywood Sr. as the father of OJ and Em who runs a horse ranch that trains horses for movies and TV shows as he is seen prominently in flashbacks as he is also the catalyst for what OJ and Em have to deal with after his sudden death.

Michael Wincott is brilliant as the renowned cinematographer Antlers Horst as an eccentric filmmaker who is reluctant to help OJ, Em, and Angel out following a commercial shoot that OJ and Em was involved in but joins in after an incident involving the alien creature where he is aware of what is at stake but also wants to capture something that no other filmmaker has done. Brandon Perea is amazing as Angel Torres as a tech worker for Fry’s Electronics who helps install cameras at the Haywood home where he makes a discovery into what has been captured as he also helps out OJ and Em in their exploits while is also a resourceful individual. Steven Yeun is incredible as Ricky “Jupe” Park as a former child star who owns and runs a western theme park, with an exhibit devoted to his trauma, as he is trying to help the Haywoods financially while he would create a show as it relates to this alien phenomenon unaware of what it wants.

Finally, there’s the duo of Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer in phenomenal performances in their respective roles as the siblings OJ and Em Haywood. Palmer’s performance is the more exuberant of the two as a woman who harbors some resentment towards her late father for not allowing her to train her own horse as a kid where she would go into the world of hustling and such to get by while coming up with unconventional ideas to trap the alien. Kaluuya’s performance is more reserved as this man who loves tending to the family ranch while was the one who had to drive his father to the hospital during his final moments as he deals with grief but also wanting to avenge his father. Kaluuya and Palmer have unique chemistry in the way they act out as siblings as they have opposite personalities yet are strong when they work together and get shit done as it relates to this being that is not of planet Earth.

Nope is a tremendous film from Jordan Peele that features great leading performances from Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer. Along with its supporting cast, ravishing visuals, eerie sound work, a haunting music score, and its themes of exploitation. The film is definitely an unconventional yet riveting horror-suspense film that isn’t afraid to take on something big while also grounding it with a story of two siblings dealing with loss and wanting to avenge their father. In the end, Nope is a spectacular film from Jordan Peele.

Jordan Peele Films: Get Out - Us (2019 film)

© thevoid99 2022


ruth said...

I trust you that this is a great film, but I have yet to see any of Jordan Peele's films as I don't have the stomach for horror. That said, I am so intrigued by this one that I might give it a shot once it hits streaming.

thevoid99 said...

@ruth-It's not a gory form of horror but it's more psychological and social as it's really more about exploitation and loss.