Until a short time ago, I didn’t watch horror movies. They were too scary, too gory, and – quite frankly – too much for me to handle…or so I thought.
Then Jordan Peele’s Get Out blew my mind (in a good way), and I realized, “Hey – this is some darn good storytelling. What other stories have I missed out on because I was making assumptions about the horror genre?”
I’ve been keeping my eye on Peele as a storyteller ever since then and when I saw the trailer for his latest – Nope – I was definitely intrigued. I didn’t think I was brave enough to actually go and watch it in the theater, but when my dad watched it first and told me he thought I’d like it, my curiosity won out and I bought my ticket.
I’m glad I saw this in the theater, and it actually felt more like a sci-fi thriller with elements of horror (honestly the worst part is an absolutely horrifying scene involving a chimpanzee – no spoilers but as someone with a monkey/ape phobia, this scene actually was too much for me). Nope plays with classic sci-fi and even Western tropes but also throws some unexpected twists and surprises into the mix.
Here are my five biggest takeaways from the movie:
1. The response to Nope is more mixed than Get Out…but that’s OK.
Although Jordan Peele’s Get Out seemed to be almost universally praised, the chatter for Nope appears to be much more mixed among both audience members and critics. And I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. Good art is sometimes challenging, and Nope may not be everyone’s cup of tea. To me, the movie often felt like a thematically darker and more serious episode of Doctor Who, and I appreciated that vibe. However, the story may not work for everyone, and that’s OK. I want storytellers in Hollywood to keep taking chances and telling original stories, and I’m happy to support bold creative choices like Nope in the theater.
2. Nope both was – and wasn’t – what I expected.
I don’t feel like it’s a spoiler to say there’s a UFO in this movie, since that part was revealed in one of the trailers. At first I was a little disappointed that the trailer gave this detail away, but the truth about who and what that UFO actually is turns out to be a surprise anyway. Although I was expecting sci-fi thrills and chills in this movie, I didn’t expect to see homages to classic Westerns and the golden age of Hollywood. While the trailers do a good job teasing what this movie is, watching it on-screen still feels fresh and exciting.
3. Once again, this Jordan Peele story offers both entertainment and deeper meaning.
One of the things I love most about Jordan Peele as a storyteller is the fact he can craft an easily accessible, entertaining tale, yet also infuse the story with deeper meaning that rewards those who want to sit and think more about what they just experienced. Even though there are some good surface-level scares to be had, Peele also finds a way to comment on various themes and issues, such as child stardom; working with animals on Hollywood sets and the inherent dangers that aren’t always recognized; the feeling when your illusion of control is shattered; and carrying on a legacy after being gutted by a loss.
4. Daniel Kaluuya is a great muse for Jordan Peele…and I hope they get to keep working together.
If Jordan Peele cast Daniel Kaluuya in every single one of his movies from here on out, I wouldn’t complain one bit. Kaluuya’s role in Nope is a completely different performance from his role in Get Out, but I enjoyed both. Kaluuya does a great job channeling Clint Eastwood in his role as a Hollywood horse wrangler in this movie. Peele + Kaluuya is a great creative partnership, and I can’t wait to see what they (hopefully!) create together next.
5. Like Get Out, this movie is a good gateway to horror as a genre.
As mentioned previously, I avoided the horror genre for many years, because I thought there was nothing for me there. However, just like any genre, horror is incredibly diverse – there are many styles of horror films, and I just needed to dedicate a little time figuring out what types of stories worked for me. If you also have been hesitant to try horror, I highly recommend Peele’s Get Out and Nope as good places to start. Even though Nope has been a little more polarizing, I’m all for films that are challenging and spark discussion. In fact, these two movies would make a great double-feature.