2 hrs 10 minutes, Rated R for face ripping and misadventures with barb wire.
Fair Value of Jordan Peele’s Nope: $16.00. This is a smart reinvention of the flying saucer movie that is mildly scary but well paced and entertaining, with enough commentary as to reward a second watching.
The lonely valleys of the Southwest: There’s something about the Southwest, Arizona and Southern California, that’s perfect to the UFOs. Maybe it’s the emptiness, or the solitude. Whatever the case, it’s never a mystery as to why the main protagonist, horse tamer OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) never bothers to call the sheriff; out in rural California (Imperial Valley? Barstow?) nobody’s going to care or believe what he has to say.
Which is one reason why OJ and his sister Emerald set out to get hard, unimpeachable film evidence of the UFO that is menacing and abducting animals on the farm; they want someone to believe their story. And they also want the payout of getting proof of alien life on film.
It’s the solitude and desolation that make this film work as a piece of horror; that knowledge that, even if a character could manage to get a call out, it would take the sheriff an hour to get out to the location (if the sheriff could even be bothered to investigate).
Who is this film perfect for? We really haven’t had a good alien horror movie in more than a decade. Signs is the most recent thing that I can think of that’s in the same category, and even that is a much different approach.
You’ll also like this film if you like little touches about film history and the struggles of black people in rural America and also in the film industry. Nope is a unique film; I can’t think of another film-maker besides Jordan Peele that would want to tell this story.
Who should skip this film? This film was really effective for me because it leaned into a weirdly specific phobia/nightmare I’ve always had: one in which gravity suddenly stops/ fails and I go hurtling into the sky. The fear of losing gravity is apparently called casadastraphobia. Yeah, this IS the casadastraphobia movie. If you’re afraid of falling up, well, this will press your buttons.
Also, it’s not really a gore-fest. It’s comparably mild by the standards of modern A24 Horror.
There’s a sub-plot relating to the character of Jupe, a neighbor of OJ’s, who had a traumatic experience as a child. It actually is relevant to the main plot of this film, but it can seem like a tangent and filler if you miss the point. Unlike Get Out or Us, Jordan Peele doesn’t have time to hammer down his metaphors and sub-plots. He’s too busy telling an entertaining story.
EXTRA SPOILER THEORY BELOW:
There’s a lot of theories going on about the monster/entity of Nope, including that the baddie is an old testament angel, but I’ve got another literary lift for you: the bad guys from H.P. Lovecraft’s story The Shadow Out of Time, the terrible and malevolent Flying Polyps.
Let’s compare the two (Jean Jacket and Flying Polyp), shall we?
Both of them are:
(A) They are flying monsters that can become invisible whenever they want;
(B) They are capable of manipulating wind and weather;
(C) They exist only in the loneliest most uninhabited parts of the world, be it the Australian Outback or the Mojave desert)
(D) They can be noticed by the horrible whistling and screaming sounds they make as they pass by.
(E) They are fluid of form and able to change and distort in shape and size;
(F) They attack people by using vortices of wind either to suck people into the sky, or to blast them and send them tumbling (G) They really, really hate to be noticed and become violently aggressive towards anyone that perceives them.
(H) They appear to function with some degree of non-euclidean geometry.
Yes, Jordan Peele has secretly done a really good adaptation of an HP Lovecraft monster, and has done it while trimming the fat of the original story to get to the lean bones and muscle of monster. This is how you do a Lovecraft monster people! It isn’t just about slime and tentacles!
All in all, go see this movie. It’s probably the most unique cinematic storytelling that you’ll get to see in 2022.