Dir. Jordan Peele
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
After the huge critical acclaim for GET OUT and thrills of US, can Jordan Peele do no wrong when it comes to horror? The honest answer after seeing NOPE is, well, nope!
The first thing that has to be taken into account here is the recallibration of expectation when it comes to NOPE. Peele has proven himself not only a huge horror fan but also one that knows how to make a statement, those expecting a magnum opus will have to wait a little longer, but what we have here is a totally bonkers b-movie that brings the fun back to big screen cinema.
After random objects falling from the sky result in the death of their father (a sharply underused appearance from genre legend, Keith David), ranch-owning siblings OJ (the impeccable Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald Haywood (Keke Palmer) attempt to capture video evidence of an unidentified flying object with the help of tech salesman Angel Torres (Brandon Perea) and documentarian Antlers Holst (Michael Wincott).
Like an episode of the TWLIGHT ZONE, Peele manages to play to the films direction and for the first half what seems like a more mediocre rendition of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, capturing the big scale magic across IMAX cameras to extraordinary effect. Fortunately, the film takes a turn to introduce a more organic type of craft and in doing so suddenly revokes any tension in favour for a full blown edge of your seat monster movie that blends the best of 50s horror and creatures that have adorned cinema ever since.
Nods to JAWS, NORTH BY NORTHWEST, THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL and even AKIRA are littered throughout and it's thanks to the stellar cast that this strangely addictive film manages to keep viewers attracted. At times hilarious, others emotional and even moments of sheer bafflement, NOPE is a film to be enjoyed on the biggest screen you can find.
There's a moment early on that is sheer hair raisingly terrifying and one that raises every hair on the body but as is so often the case with mainstream cinema, is double downed to the point where anything thereafter becomes predictably disappointing, by the halfway point it then questions peoples knowledge of alien films to the point that it becomes a predictably dire affair. One that is only carried by the charismatic chemistry between the films perfect ensemble including Steven Yuen as ranch owner Jupe who manages to survive to tell a graphic tale about a chimp. But when the rug is pulled from under your feet and the film reveals its McGuffin, there's a round of applause for a director who really knows how to tie an audience in knots.
While not as deep or as terrifying as GET OUT neither does it carry the horrifyingly levels of lore that we got with US but instead, Peele let's his guard down and simply has fun, and so too should viewers. Put frankly, this is TREMORS in the skies and there's a whole lot of fun to be had with it!