By Keith Walther | Rose Law Group Reporter
With his 2nd directorial film since his critically acclaimed debut of “Get Out,” Jordan Peele solidifies his unique filmmaking style in “Nope.” Unlike his first 2 movies Peele delves into the sci-fi genre a little more than horror with this latest installment. Don’t worry, there are still enough hair-raising suspense moments for horror fans that are sure to get the blood pumping.
Nestled in a remote area of inland California, Haywood Ranch is the setting for strange phenomena occurring in the area. OJ Haywood (Daniel Kaluuya) inherits the struggling horse ranch from his father Otis (Keith David), who died on the ranch under mysterious circumstances. Keeping the ranch financially viable has been anything but easy for OJ, who communicates better with horses than he does with people. His social anxiety is counteracted by his outgoing, energetic yet unreliable sister, Emerald Haywood (Keke Palmer), who helps with the client relations side of the business.
After witnessing a UFO ducking in and out of clouds over the ranch, OJ and Emerald hatch a plan to be the first to capture undeniable, quality footage proving that life beyond our planet exists in hopes of securing a financial windfall that will save the family ranch. Their plan quickly unravels as they realize the horrible, predatory nature of this extraterrestrial, and that they’ve become the prey.
Jordan Peele’s early directorial path seems to be mirroring M. Night Shyamalan in several ways. Similar to M. Night’s debut, “The Sixth Sense”, “Get Out” received a lot of critical acclaim and audience accolades. Both directors chose to explore an alien invasion situation for their 3rd films (“Signs” by M. Night), and both films are quite unique in an otherwise saturated alien encounter movie market. Peele and Shyamalan also share the same signature in their films, unpredictable jaw-dropping endings. Like M. Night, Jordan Peele’s creativity will start to polarize audiences, you’ll either like his style or you won’t. “Nope” is already beginning to do that with audiences.
“Nope” may be a simple title for a movie, but don’t let that fool you, the storyline is anything but simple. The opening scene of the bloody aftermath of a chimpanzee wreaking havoc on a TV show set while wearing a birthday hat gives the audience a startling idea of what they’re about to watch. This scene represents one of the several subplots occurring within the overarching storyline and requires a bit of patience from the audience while Jordan Peele craftily connects the dots.
The stylistic and creative cinematography, coupled with clever sound editing help enhance the tension and suspense in the right moments. The problem? While the story is complex and difficult to predict throughout the first half of the film, Peele pulls back the curtain a bit too soon, revealing a more transparent, uneventful ending.
Daniel Kaluuya highlights the acting performances with a riveting portrayal of the dedicated horse wrangler. He brings a quiet strength to his character, a stoic calm. Some will mistake his limited dialogue as a wooden, unemotional performance. This would be wrong, Kaluuya expertly uses his eyes and facial mannerisms to convey his thoughts and feelings, which is a very difficult ability for an actor to master. He’s starting to come into his own as a legitimate leading man, exhibiting solid performances in “Get Out,” “Queen and Slim,” “Judas and the Black Messiah,” and now “Nope.”
The other leading role goes to a relatively young unproven actress in Keke Palmer who hasn’t really sniffed a quality leading part before, but she not only holds her own, she excels in the spotlight. She balances Kaluyaa’s character beautifully by bringing a high, boisterous energy and emotionally charged reactions to her character. It’s going to be exciting to see what doors may open for her after this performance. Steven Yeun (aka Glenn from “Walking Dead”), Michael Wincott (“Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” and “The Crow”) and Brandon Perea (“The OA”) round out the serviceable supporting cast.
“Nope” is a quality sci-fi thriller that uses creativity and imagination to buck the normal trends of the genre. It’s definitely not for everyone, but don’t use “Get Out” as a basis for comparison. Mix “Jaws 3-D,” “Signs,” with a minor sprinkle of “Flight of the Navigator,” and that’ll give you a better idea of what to expect.
This movie earns: