Over Otis Haywood’s (Keith David, Barbershop) ranch in SoCal’s parched Santa Clarita Valley, something is hovering. Otis comes from a long line of horsemen and is well known for his animal wrangling for TV and film.
His son OJ (David Kaluuya, Get Out) also works with him and his stallions. There’s something in the sky that seems to be swooping up and propelling things down. They should be careful… There are several ways in which Jordan Peele has twisted the horror genre.
In this instance, he veers off the path a bit, spending a great deal of time setting up dread. There is some gore in the film. It’s true that bodies fly up and things are thrown down. There are some people who are maimed or sucked away. However, not in a well-measured manner.
While Peele’s script clocks in at 2h 10m, some may wish the footage was tighter (editor Nicholas Mansour, Us). Every moment was connected to something important. Rather than tight beats, there is a lot of space between them.
It takes more time to wait to be scared and shocked than to actually be scared and shocked. A loud sound design (Johnnie Burn) emphasizes those shocks. Overshadowing noises that sometimes overshadow visual effects.
In spite of their intentions, it is never clear who is causing all the terror. It looks like a prop from a 1960s Twilight Zone episode or a round casserole dish with a lid. OJ: “Ghosts are acting territorial out there.” Rather campy and old-fashioned. It doesn’t compare with other space oddities that have hovered over the earth in films like Arrival.
With the aid of his overly rambunctious and slightly annoying younger sister Emerald (Keke Palmer, Akeelah, and the Bee), OJ tries to document the UFO. They are joined by a helpful and energetic electronics store clerk (Brandon Perea, American Insurrection) and a very mystical cinematographer (Michael Wincott, Westworld).
“Jupiter’s Claim” is a family-themed cowboy park run by Ricky “Jupe” Park (Steven Yeun, Minari). The Haywoods clash with the park patrons. There is some murkiness surrounding Jupe’s beef with the UFO. Haywood’s main motive for charting the mysterious object is monetizing their 15 seconds of fame.
The error has been corrected. The motive of vengeance would have been far more compelling and primal. Disputes will rage regarding red herring storytelling, lapses, and effects. No one will argue about the spectacle, however. There’s nothing quite like the Santa Clarita Valley setting for a biblical painting. Hills and sands of taupe color. Vegetation is sparse. The sun is always present.
The impressive and photogenic landscape is as iconic as the Durango, Mexico setting of John Houston’s classic The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. It is impossible to forget the moments when OJ gallops over dusty terrain on horseback. Though the UFO itself may be tiny, viewers’ heads will be messed up by visions of victims being sucked into it and churned up like ground beef.
As soon as you hire cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema (Dunkirk), you know that your images will be captured in perfect lighting, framed in an artful manner, and composed like a painting. Sets will be evocative when Ruth De Jong (Twin Peaks) is hired.
Yuen’s red cowboy outfit, designed by Alex Bovaird (The White Lotus), flies when his hands are on them. In addition to Stevie Wonder tunes, composer Michael Abels (Bad Education) will create a dramatic musical score.
Taking to his steed like a matinee idol, Daniel Kaluuya expertly saves the day. Laconic. Stoic. Steely. His facial expressions and eye rolls convey more emotion and thought than the script intended. Although Palmer is energetic, her irritating role undermines her.
Despite its extravagant cowboy hor/mys/sci-fi style, it really is a good film. There is no need to worry about the lulls in Peele’s films because his fans and horror fans will remember the thrills. Some people may feel frustrated waiting and waiting for something to happen. Is Nope worth the patience it requires?
Robert Poirrer is a contributing author who covers Hollywood latest movie releases and web series for the MovieThop website. He has a decade of experience in writing movies based articles for numerous renowned media outlets. He is excellent at creating unique content based on emerging trends in a variety of categories especially entertainment, movies and lifestyle. When not writing articles you could find Robert enjoying mountain biking trips with his friends. He graduated in English Literature from North Carolina State University.