NOPE is more thriller than horror, with a twisted story that has deeper meaning if you look hard enough, but still a fun watch for those who don’t want to.
There is no denying that Jordan Peele has a certain feel to his movies. They walk the line of thriller and horror while delivering important social commentary for those who are willing to look deep enough to see it. His first film, Get Out, is easily one of the best films ever made but his second film, Us, was not as appreciated by fans. NOPE marks the third film written and directed by Peele, which feels like a happy medium between the two.
Get Out was riddled with social commentary but it was pulled off really well. Us was a bit too much in your face for audiences and felt like Peele was trying really hard to top his previous success. NOPE isn’t afraid to slip in commentary where it can be found if you look hard enough, but it focuses more on creating an incredible viewing experience (see this in theaters, folks).
Initial reactions and reviews for NOPE were quite mixed, and coming off of his not-so-great movie Us, expectations were low. While this could have an effect on our overall thoughts, this movie far exceeded any and all expectations. The first act is a great set up for what is to come. Peele has always loved to include twists in his films and this one is no different. By the time the third act hits the movie is turned completely on its head, but not in a bad way.
While it can be confusing for some, those who know a lot about the nature of animals have a lot to appreciate. The film starts mysteriously, with an incident on the set of a series that involves a monkey. The longer the movie goes on, and the more fleshed out the story gets, it becomes more and more clear what this has to do with the plot as a whole.
In fact, viewers who pay close attention might even guess the big reveal before the third act hits, although it still really delivers if you have it all figured out. NOPE is captivating right from the start, and one of those movies that will have audiences on the edge of their seats as they wait for it to play out in front of their eyes.
There are jump scares, decoy plot lines, and blood — a whole lot of blood. If you think you know what it is going on after studying the trailers frame by frame, trust us, you have no idea.
Some scenes are so intense you will be able to hear a pin drop in the audience, and some are so hilarious that you might have a hard time hearing the next line of dialogue through the laughter. The score does an incredible job of adding emotion to every single scene, and in true Jordan Peele fashion there is a soundtrack that will haunt viewers whenever they hear a song from it.
When it comes to the cast, Keke Palmer (who plays Emerald Haywood) brings a light to nearly every scene she is in, while Daniel Kaluuya (who plays her brother OJ Haywood) steals his scenes with subtlety. The two are complete opposites which adds in a family dynamic that makes the emotional moments so much more emotional.
Steven Yeun is remarkable as an attention whore ex-actor who needs to have all eyes on him, always. But it is Brandon Perea who brings the much needed comedic relief that breaks up the heaviness and intensity of the film.
NOPE is a bit all over the place at times, with some jumps through the plot that makes things confusing and a disjointed script here and there. But thanks to the incredible acting, intense and terrifying moments, and the added in humor, this one should not be missed. If you can see it on the big screen, do it, because the visuals are stunning.
It might not be perfect, but NOPE is a lot of fun and will give audiences a whole lot to think about. It showcases why some things, like wild animals, are better left out of Hollywood — no matter how trainable you think they are.
Not as good as Get Out but far superior to Us, NOPE has restored the faith in Jordan Peele for this critic.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Two siblings who run a California horse ranch discover something wonderful and sinister in the skies above, while the owner of an adjacent theme park tries to profit from the mysterious, otherworldly phenomenon.
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Tessa Smith is a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved Film and TV Critic. She is also a Freelance Writer. Tessa has been in the Entertainment writing business for almost ten years and is a member of several Critics Associations including the Critics Choice Association, Hollywood Critics Association, and the Greater Western New York Film Critics Association.