"Nope" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
Horror movie characters are known for being surprisingly idiotic. Spawning parodies where the characters run into the haunted forest or back into the house where the killer is, it's no surprise when many of the protagonists in horror movies don't make it out alive. Jordan Peele, on the other hand, tackles that trope in many of his movies, showing how the protagonists are actually smart and make good decisions. His newest film, "Nope" is no exception, making an entertaining film where the characters are smart, but not so smart story-wise.
The story revolves around O.J. (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald Haywood (Keke Palmer), siblings who are the descendants of the first man on film in the short segment, "Horse in Motion". They are run a ranch that sends horses to work on Hollywood pictures, making them one of the oldest companies to do so. However, when mysterious things fall out of the sky and a UFO is seen in the clouds surrounding the ranch, the two siblings investigate further into what it is, putting their lives and their family ranch at risk.
They recruit the help of electronics technician, Angel (Brandon Perea), who is obsessed with trying to find the UFO that is circling the ranch. However, across the way, a child star turned amusement park owner named Ricky "Jupe" Park (Steven Yeun), who is buying some of the horses from the ranch, is competing with them for the attention of the UFO, hoping to bring in more park guests and visitors.
On the surface level, this movie is incredibly entertaining, like most of Peele's movies are. Peele has the talent of creating these bonkers plots combined with fun and entertaining characters. The actors in this film, especially Kaluuya and Palmer, give great performances as their characters and hold the audience's attention throughout the film. Our two main protagonists have excellent on-screen chemistry as siblings, and they are both great and entertaining characters in their own right.
At the same time, this is probably Peele's most frightening and thrilling movie. His other films seem more like a slow-burn, but this movie starts right out of the gate with Gordy the monkey killing the actors on the set he is on. From there, the scenes with the UFO keep the audience on the edge of their seat and keeps their eyes glued to the screen, not wanting to look away and miss a second of what is going on. In certain scenes and aspects, Peele is able to terrify the viewer in ways he never had before in his other films.
However, with all of that being said, the story is just all over the place for this movie. I understand what Peele was going for in certain plot points and details, but none of them really seemed connected and coherent. He adds too much inside this film, which convolutes it and adds just too much to the story. He could have kept it a very simple plot, and it would have been a lot better than the convoluted plot he presented. Instead of making this film two and a half hours, he could have easily fit everything he wanted in an hour and forty.
But, let's talk about one of the biggest things about this movie - Gordy. Like mentioned earlier, the movie opens with the terrifying scene of him attacking and killing the actors that are on the show he is starring in. This plot line develops throughout this movie, and it seems like it would be a major plot point that is linked to the mysterious UFO. However, it just tries to give background to a character in this film that is barely in the film. It makes no sense. The reason Peele did this storyline was to show racial discrimination in Hollywood during the '70s and '80s, but did he really have to dedicate around 20-30 minutes of screen time to this storyline to show racial discrimination? In his other films, he linked the racial inequality to his actual main plot, instead of having it as a side storyline that doesn't make any sense to the main plot as a whole.
As the movie concludes, Peele has left so many plot lines open and so many loose ends not tied up. I was left with more questions than answers, and that's not a good thing when leaving the movie theater. I like this movie, I thought it was entertaining and I would go see it again. But, it can't cloud the fact that this movie is just all over the place and doesn't really know when to stop with some storylines and proceed with others. It's really frustrating as Peele is known for creating these sophisticated and witty stories and characters, and he just lacks on both factors for this film unfortunately.