After a recent visit to the nearest zoo’s Primate Park, it’s confirmed: Jordan Peele’s 2022 film, Nope, has officially given me a new phobia. Peele’s newest movie is a science fiction horror film that follows a pair of siblings trying to support the family ranch after their father’s unexpected death.
Nope is an invitation to the horror genre. It’s a movie for those who align themselves with scaredy cats, the people who claim both armrests at the movies, so they can hold on with white knuckles. It’s for the people who shout “nope!” when a character walks down a dark hallway and starts opening doors that should just be left closed.
O.J. (played by Daniel Kaluuya) is doing his best to keep the ranches’ horses well trained and his family’s business afloat. His sister, Emerald (Keke Palmer), is more interested in the family’s connection to Hollywood. Together, the two of them discover something strange living in their territory. A UFO flies through the skyline, the power cuts out, and debris falls from the sky.
Down the road from the ranch is a gold rush themed amusement park, owned and run by former child actor, Ricky ‘Jupe’ Park (Steven Yeun). Mixed into O.J. and Emeralds’ main plotline are flashbacks to Jupe’s acting days, where he relives the notorious end to his role in Gordy’s Home, a fictional sitcom about a family’s pet chimpanzee. During his on-screen birthday party, the live chimpanzee playing Gordy snaps. A young Jupe (Jacob Kim) hides under a table as the chimp beats his fellow cast members until they are bloody and disfigured, or worse, dead.
Fans who want to experience something scary, but need an extra blanket to hide behind will appreciate Nope’s take on horror. Jupe’s flashbacks are the most violent scenes, but they are woven into the narrative, so the audience is only faced with clips of what is occurring. Peele also obscures the violence just enough. You don’t see the face of Jupe’s co-star; instead, you see Gordy’s arm raised, ready to strike. You hear the sound of the impact, and you’re left imagining what is happening to the body. Peele is able to create a disturbing atmosphere without relying on gore. He leaves us with subtle images, like an actor’s shoe, bloody and somehow standing upright.
And you can’t look away. There is something that keeps you peeking from behind the safety of your blanket. Sensationalization and spectacle are at the core of this movie. As O.J. and Emerald search for the mystery hiding just outside their ranch, they become motivated to record their findings. They’re searching for fame and recognition just as much as they’re searching for an alien. The audience is forced to reckon with the horrors we consume on a day to day basis. And how, on some level, it consumes us.
Sara Mallory is a Junior Writing major who watched Nope going “nope, nope, nope.” They can be reached at [email protected].
Art by Ruth Ayambem.