Jordan Peele has done it again! Now I cannot say in my very unprofessional opinion if “Nope” tops “Get Out,” but I can express how well-thought-out “Nope” is as a thriller movie. As a brief synopsis of the movie, a Black family which raises and trains horses for film productions and live events slowly gets caught up in a series of odd events, such as tiny metal bits falling from the sky like rain. One of their largest business partners is an entertainer who runs a cowboy-themed theme park on the ranch. He is a bit of a shifty guy with an unusual past as he used to be a child actor on a show that went sideways. His show centered around a family which had adopted a monkey as one of their children. However, in the birthday episode, the monkey lost control and attacked everyone around him. Now we see this child actor, all grown up running his ranch and playing with forces greater than that of a monkey all for entertainment and fame. Unfortunately, the ranch owners get swept up in his deal as the monster starts attacking their horses. To protect themselves, their ranch and their horses, they become determined to discover what this monster is and show it to the world. From there the film centers around this one idea—getting the shot.
For the protagonists, this means capturing in a photo what it is that this cowboy entertainer has made a deal with. Their journey follows that of most other thrillers; however, these protagonists have something that other thriller characters never seem to have: common sense. They assemble a crew of odd and funny characters to set up their plan and sure enough, it all comes together. Now I hope that this certainly did not give anything away from the movie for those still wanting to see it. But if you do not want any spoilers you may want to stop reading here. There are three primary reasons this movie checks all of the boxes for one of the best this year: foreshadowing, humor and cinematography.
Jordan Peele is not one to leave details out or forget about early scenes in the movie. Foreshadowing is a large part of the movie as it is largely used to show the cowboy entertainer’s cyclical lifestyle. As a child actor, he made a deal with a monkey. This deal was supposed to make him famous as an actor. He would be the actor who starred with a monkey and made it work. He entered that deal and it ended up biting him in the butt as the monkey went wild one day as discussed earlier. He attacked and killed one person on the set and completely disfigured another (which Jordan Peele shows you in wonderful detail!). Any normal person would go through that and think “never again,” but not this child actor turned cowboy entertainer. He instead ups the ante and makes a deal with a literal ALIEN. This alien is supposed to give him his fame back, but to no avail. It ends up being the reason for his entire demise.
This foreshadowing on a secondary character can seem to be unnecessary if not understood, and that is the beauty of it: it is supposed to be confusing at first and seem to not make sense. The second foreshadowing which was important comes from well, a well. This well has a camera in the bottom of it for park visitors to use and if you can see where this is going then good for you! This becomes the most important camera in the entire movie.
But the second aspect which is so quintessential to Jordan Peele’s films and breaks from the usual thriller trend is humor, coming in the form of common sense. For once, in a film where alien stuff is happening to a family, we see people act the way we all truly would act. In one scene, bloody carnival decorations are falling from the sky and the main protagonist, OJ, just says, “nope” and stays inside his car where it is safe. Any other thriller character would have gone outside and died, but not in a Jordan Peele movie. Just as comics such as Eddie Murphy have joked about for years, any other typical thriller character would not have had the common sense to stay inside or leave when it made sense to. Hence, the title, “Nope”: it reflects how the audience would feel if they were OJ. They would say “nope,” and then proceed to go somewhere safer.
Finally, cinematography: I mean, how can you not discuss a movie without this aspect? It is not like it’s a book that you read—the visuals matter, and Peele delivered in this category as well. In so many horror and thriller movies you only get to see either a small portion of the horrific thing or you only get to see it for a short time displayed on the screen. However, Peele knows how curious the audience is, and not only do you get a good look at the creature, but you get a good long look at it. Enough to remember it and understand it because sometimes one short look is never enough. All in all, “Nope” crushed it for me as a thriller movie. I was terrified, excited and shocked all in one sitting without any discomfort or loose ends. I left the movie theater more than satisfied and happy with the movie I saw.