‘Nope’ gets a yes from me

Jordan Peele’s new film subverts expectations and offers a unique take on horror


Keke Palmer (Emerald Haywood), Daniel Kaluuya (OJ Haywood), and Steven Yeun (Jupe Park) star in Jordan Peele’s new sci-fi thriller, Nope.

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Eliza Jensen, co-a&e and co-online managing editor

Ever since ‘Get Out’ stunned audiences in 2017 it’s been made clear that Jordan Peele knows what he is doing. His first two movies did extremely well in theaters, with Get Out making $255.4 million at the box office and Us making $255.2 million. His newest addition ‘Nope’ is no exception. While Nope takes on a completely different tone compared to Peele’s previous films, it’s a refreshing change from other theatrical releases/disappointments this year. 

Written and directed by Jordan Peele, Nope follows two siblings as they discover something sinister in the skies above their horse ranch. After the bizarre death of their father (played by Keith David), OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald “Em” Haywood (Keke Palmer) are sucked into the mysterious events occurring around them. As random objects begin to fall from the sky, the two siblings attempt to capture video evidence of the ominous forces that hide in plain sight.  

In all three of Peele’s movies, things are never as they seem. In ‘Get Out’, Rose and her family are secretly transferring their brains into African American bodies, and in ‘Us’ our main character turns out to secretly be tethered all along. 

In ‘Nope’ it’s a little different. It takes a spin on the classic alien horror formula. But instead of cliched aliens characterized by little green men with giant heads and eyes in a big UFO, Nope’s take is original and refreshing. And this comes down to the direction Peele decided to take it. 

Everyone, in some way, wants to feel special or famous. It’s human nature to desire being unique. The story Jordan Peele created represents this through many different outlets — through his characters and their motivations for the plot of the story.

In ‘Nope’ it’s a little different. It takes a spin on the classic alien horror formula.

Nope is all about chasing the spectacle and its many consequences. Each character has their motives for pursuing the UFO. 

Take Jupe (Steven Yeun), a child star traumatized by the events of an incident on set. He starred in the hit TV show Gordy’s Home, which followed a boy and his pet chimp, Gordy. On one tragic day of filming a balloon loudly popped, scaring Gordy, causing him to kill and mutilate the other actors. 

This event stays with Jupe all the way to adulthood, but instead of learning from his past, he’s blinded by his obsession with fame. His traumatic childhood left him feeling special, leading him to create a theme park where he hides a secret shrine of memorabilia of Gordy and the gruesome accident that occurred there. His ego blinds him into thinking he can tame the saucer, and make it into a spectacle for the world to see. 

All he wants to do is save his Father’s dying ranch, but his lack of interest in the spectacle is the reason the ranch is dying.

On the opposite side of this is OJ. He has no motivation to pursue the saucer, unlike his sister. All he wants to do is save his Father’s dying ranch, but his lack of interest in the spectacle is the reason the ranch is dying. After he first discovers the saucer, Emerald is the one to suggest they try and get proof. The money shot. The Oprah shot. 

His knowledge of taming horses and understanding animalistic behaviors is precisely the reason he figures out how the saucer works. He doesn’t want to tame it like Jupe or chase it like Em or Angel; he just wants to save the ranch and keep his family’s name alive. That’s what gives him the courage to face it head-on. 

While some may say that Jordan Peele’s Nope isn’t as strong as his previous two films, it’s unique. It’s not purely a horror movie, it’s more than that. It plays with the audience and uses its mystery to its advantage—never showing us too much until it wants to.