REVIEW: The Underlying Complexities of Jordan Peele’s Nope


Scott Garfitt/Invision/AP

From left, Donna Mills, Brandon Perea, Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer pose for photographers upon arrival for the premiere of the film ‘Nope’ in London, Thursday, July 28, 2022. (Photo by Scott Garfitt/Invision/AP)

Warning: This article may contain spoilers for those who have not seen Nope.

The 2022 summer movie season pumped out plenty of content for movie-goers to enjoy after a bleak drought at the cinema, whose box office still seems to be suffering from the pandemic. One such movie released was filmmaker Jordan Peele’s Nope, a film with a new take on the horror genre.

Leaving the cinema after having watched Nope left me in much confusion; what is this film really about? A sci-fi thriller where two siblings, O.J. (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald Haywood (Kiki Palmer), both Hollywood horse trainers, learn of a UAP living in a cloud above their ranch and try to get proof of its existence. It’s an interesting pitch, but the box office is evidence that Jordan Peele’s new movie is just not connecting with its audience, unable to reach the weekly milestones Get Out and Us had, which both made $255 million worldwide. While the pandemic could be blamed for its performance, this may be because the ideas are too abstract for some. I, among those movie-goers, didn’t see the complexities at first glance. Now that I have, I’ve earned a great appreciation for this film.

While lacking in cinematography, Peele makes up for it with out-of-the-box thinking, the most riveting twist being that the UFO was not a ship, like most would assume, but an animal. Everything came together brilliantly as the story unraveled, just like the predator, who’d completely transformed his appearance by the end of the film. The way the predator released what it couldn’t digest, particularly metal items, in a blood rain over the house was truly chilling, especially after realizing that falling metal was the reason O.J. ‘s father died at the beginning. Another unforeseeable twist was figuring out that Ricky knew about the predator (the picture of the alien is shown on the back of his red jacket) and that was his reasoning for buying all of O.J. ‘s horses.

Steven Yeun’s character Ricky “Jupe” Park was the most perplexing piece of the puzzle, with a backstory that seemingly provided no connection to the main storyline. One of the best segments in the movie was the horrific scene of Ricky’s run on fictional sitcom Gordy’s Home as a child. Behind an extremely disturbing scene of a rogue monkey beating humans to death was a warning about exploiting animals for profit in the film industry, a theme that resonates throughout the movie. Ricky, after having survived a traumatic event, continues to profit off of the monkey, allowing people to rent overnight stays in a room full of the sitcom’s merchandise. Not learning his lesson, he attempts to lure the alien predator for his new show using Lucky, O.J.’s horse. This overconfidence leads to his demise when he cannot get his bait out of the box. Instead, the predator eats Ricky and the entire audience in a blood-curdling segment as you hear the victims’ screams echo through the valley. Ricky is an excellent foil for O.J., because while he never grasps the dangers of attempting to tame wild animals, he uses this knowledge to his benefit, able to beat the alien when learning it only eats those who look at it, a callback to the horse who’d been provoked by a mirror held up to its face earlier.

This theme even bleeds into the protagonists. They become so determined to obtain visual footage of the wild predator that it not only almost gets them killed, but also gets others killed, including the director they bring into their plan to record the interaction.

So, what is Nope really about? Peele certainly accomplishes what he set out to do: tell a horror story about exploitation for spectacle, especially when it comes to wild animals and the film industry. Overall, this film achieves everything you’d want: a great story, likable characters, jaw-dropping twists with clever revelations and epiphanies, and a compelling argument to make you think once you’ve left the cinema. Emerald, O.J., and Angel definitely survived a catastrophe like Ricky, but will they ever learn from the events that transpired? Nope has a gratifying and pleasant ending, but leaves much to be desired, leaving a possible path for another story in this world.