Jordon Peele’s Nope hits the cinemas today 12 Aug, his follow up to Get Out and US. Brother and sister, OJ played by Daniel Kaluuya and Emerald played by Keke Palmer find themselves in the middle of an uncanny and scary discovery.
The pair run Haywood Hollywood Horses from their run down Californian ranch after the death of their father (Keith David) soon which they begin to realise may have been a result of the alien presence lurking above their ranch.
The debt piles up– OJ has to sell his horses to Ricky ‘Jupe’ Park (Steven Yeun), who is the owner of the nearby Star Lasso Experience, a Western-themed live show. Jupe’s back story is he was once a child star who witnessed a very tragic incident on set, from which he has kept some chilling souvenirs.
The brother and sister duo set up a plan which involves buying equipment and a camera from an electronics store, which ignites interest from shop assistant Angel (Brandon Perea), who joins them to capture footage of the alien presence. Riches and fame are just around the corner if the brother and sister duo can pull this off.
Nope’s big pre-release build up makes the reveal an even more dramatic cinematic experience which hangs on the peripherals of horror, sci-fi and suspense. The scares in this movie are not big spine chilling jump out of your seat, from the Chimpanzee that goes wild and ravages people to death to Keith David’s demise but more a blood curdling sit at the edge of your seat as you are wrapped in Peele’s brilliantly set up suspense cinematic gem.
Keke’s Emerald is boyish, wired, over excited and in contrast to the cool very calculated OJ, Kaluuya’s eyes are given many close ups and their performances are mesmerising with most of the action is played out between them. In addition Peele has added some characters for good measure like Donna Mill’s who stars as actress Bonnie Clayton she meets OJ on the set where he takes one of his horses for a commercial and cinematographer Antlers Holst played by Michael Wincott “who talks some weird sh…t” as Angel puts it.
The film pays homage to the entertainment industry and westerns through the central plot, the business is named after the Haywood’s great-great-great grandfather, a jockey named Alistair E. Haywood, who rode a horse in the first moving picture ever made.
The 1878 clip from Eadweard Muybridge horse is a real part of cinematic history, the name of the Black man riding a horse in Muybridge’s game-changing piece of footage is unknown to modern audiences. Peele in Nope brings the historical erasure of Black cowboys to light, who as we are learning played a big role in America’s history but are not represented in the many John Wayne and other western movies. Peele does not push this narrative it just fits in.
Nope reminds us our biggest threats could be in plain sight right there lurking in the clouds. Peele said that if he can make people think about the sky the way Jaws made people think about the water then I have done it.