Film poster for Nope from writer/director Jordan Peele featuring a cloud with bunting hanging from it

Let’s get this out of the way now: This probably isn’t really a horror film.

There are moments of terror and some incredibly unsettling sights, but Jordan Peele’s latest masterpiece fits more accurately into the realms of science fiction. While I will do my best not to ruin the nature of the movie, it is impossible to talk about a film like Nope without some spoilers so readers, please beware.

It’s hard to know where to start with Nope without launching into a full-length dissertation – and surely it will be the subject of one if it isn’t already. Every element is worth exploring, from the creature design to the character and costume work, and while it sounds trite, there’s really nothing like watching it for yourself, so we’ll refrain from too many spoilers. Suffice it to say, Nope heavily features a straight-up extra-terrestrial being, and it’s not really possible to avoid discussing it!

Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer as their characters in Nope stand in front of a green screen with a black horse

Peele’s wit is as dry as ever, and while Nope might have slightly less social commentary than his previous work, it still shows through in its exploration of racial tension and exploitation. You could argue that it’s about the film industry and exploitation, whether that be the exploitation of a black man in the first ever recorded footage, that of child stars, or of animals. 

From a wider angle, Nope represents hubris versus the opportunity to understand. The story of Gordy’s House which is pieced together through flashbacks is both its own mini horror story and a serious life lesson: address your trauma instead of exploiting it. Jupe is broken by his childhood experiences, and it comes back to bite him – OJ tries to understand his mistakes, and as a result has more success with the alien than anyone.

Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer and Brandon Perea as their characters in Nope

Anime nerds will love that Peele took huge inspiration from the angels in films like Neon Genesis Evangelion, while nature nerds will see something of a deep sea monster in the alien way it flies. The creature’s design is really quite remarkable, from its manta-ray-like predatory mode to its fully unfurled Biblically-accurate angel configuration, and the colossal size and strength make it terrifying every time.

The alien, Jean Jacket, isn’t a monster, despite doing things that are monstrous to us. It’s emphasised throughout that like many animals, it is more than capable of doing great harm if that is required for it to survive. Jean Jacket isn’t the villain of Nope; it’s just nature, which is hungry and indifferent above all things.

A still from the film Nope showing a man in a red cowboy suit and white cowboy hat next to a horse inside a glass box

The film is made particularly powerful by its rock-solid cast. Daniel Kaluuya is always a pleasure to watch, and here we get to see him play a drastically different character to his charismatic portrayal of Chris in Get Out. Keke Palmer plays the perfect obnoxious sister with ambition, and while appearances were brief, Keith David was a delight as always. Steven Yeun did an excellent job as the traumatised, soulless Jupe, whose morality was as dubious as his fashion sense.

Nope is a spectacle to watch in the same way as films like Inception – an epic, awe-inspiring mindfuck that assaults the senses with silence and space as much as with sound. It manages to inspire both agoraphobia and claustrophobia and have a sense of whimsy even among the terror. For anyone who enjoys horror as a rollercoaster of dread, this is sure to hit the spot.


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