Perhaps baseball is not the best of comparisons, but if director Jordan Peele were to have his next seven films be duds, he would still be batting .300. Of course, that would also mean that Shyamalan would have a decent batting record also, so…oh nevermind (well, maybe lower if we count just how horrible The Last Airbender was.
Anyhow, after his 2017 breakthrough Get Out (which I did not like at first and admit my mistake) and 2019’s breathtaking Us, Jordan Peele’s Nope is yet another piece of proof that the man has come much further than one would have thought of the old Comedy Central veteran.
Six months after a family tragedy, Otis Haywood Jr. (Get Out’s Daniel Kaluuya) and his sister Em (Keke Palmer) are on hard times with their family horse training company way past their time, going as far back as the first known film clip of the galloping horse. They even need to sell some of their good horses to their new neighbor, former child actor Ricky “Jupe” Park (Steven Yeun, who, once upon a time, was The Walking Dead’s Glenn) and his family, owners of a local theme park called “Jupiter’s Claim”. All of them get more apprehension (to say the least) when strange occurrences begin to take place from above.
Peele is indeed one of those directors that is able to make his point without being too obvious. He is one of the best directors today at dropping subtle nuances, making his films so much more than other dowdy horror flicks. While these (as well as the striking look of the film) were the highlights, I was left a tad underwhelmed at parts of the plot (Peele also wrote the film.)
This does not at all mean the film isn’t scary. Yes, there are some jump scares and even some nods to old school Shyamalan (which I mean as a compliment). One sequence in particular would, I imagine, be nothing short of a visual nightmare for anyone with the slightest bit of claustrophobia.
As with his first two films (especially Us), Peele manages to bring out stellar work in his actors. Kaluuya (who was nominated for his role in Get Out) is much more subtle in his performance, yet still manages to show intensity in his eyes alone. Yeun is one of those actors that, despite the role he is playing, is impossible not to admire. There are also solid performances by Brandon Perea, Jacob Kim, Keith David, Michael Wincott, and (briefly) Oz Perkins (son of “Norman Bates” Anthony Perkins).
Parents, the film is clearly not for kids. While there is no sexual content/nudity, there is more than enough swearing and (most notably), horror imagery that would make kids have nightmares for the rest of the year (there is a flashback scene that will stick in the heads of anyone in the audience for some time, regardless of age). Acknowledge the rating on this one.
Like he did in Us, Peele supplies us with a scripture from the bible. This time, it is Nahum 3:6. One may wonder what other verses might inspire Peele for more ideas for films.
There may some that think that Peele’s films are too much, and are causing the audience a form of suffering. I am reminded of a quote from another director:
“Always make the audience suffer as much as possible.”
FYI, that director was Alfred Hitchcock.