Uniquely unsettling and refreshingly original, Nope is Jordan Peele simply having fun with a concept and enlisting two stars to bring it to life, resulting in an exciting UFO tale that doesn’t always click, but largely delivers.
When strange occurrences rattle a California horse ranch, a discovery will alter their lives forever. A slow burn of a sci-fi mystery, Nope is engaging from the opening moments, raising questions that slowly are answered by the end. It’s a neat “peek behind the curtains” of the entertainment industry in some senses, something different in this type of space. Daniel Kaluuya is strong in a quiet, confident way as the lead while Keke Palmer, playing his sister, turns in the performance of her career. Together they’re funny, engaging, and relatable, even as the chaos around them grows more unsettling. Brandon Perea’s character is a fitting third cog in the wheel, playing the middleman between Kaluuya and Palmer’s characters with an intense, crazed interest in the strange events. Peele combines humor and mystery in one of the first instances of “yeah, that’s probably how I would react” in a sci-fi film. It’s all set against a picturesque landscape that is unnerving for both the size and remoteness, the visuals stunning throughout.
That’s not to say that everything with Nope works, however. The logic that ultimately drives the climax is a bit flimsy, the “answers” coming to the characters a little too conveniently. There is also a minor subplot involving Steven Yeun that is wildly gruesome, yet a bit disconnected from the overall film. But somehow Nope works and works rather well in spite of this, thanks largely to the entertaining cast that came to play. While Get Out is one of the best horror films of the past decade, Nope is Peele’s most straightforward. It’s smart, it’s funny, and it’s unpredictable… what summer fun!
Nope hits theaters this Friday.
Photo from Pitchfork