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Nope Blu-ray review: Dir. Jordan Peele

Jordan Peele‘s previous forays into the realms of 21st century horror resulted in Get Out (2017) and Us (2019), both of which remain almost indefinable in their brilliance – multilayered, meaningful and entertaining horror films that succeed in both terrifying and tantalising. And now we have Nope, Peele’s latest venture, a film as equally multilayered and meaningful, and one that fuels the flames in regards to Peele’s status as a horror film luminary.

On paper Nope embraces science fiction more than pure horror, although not without plenty of paranoia, centring on siblings Em (Keke Palmer) and OJ Haywood (Daniel Kaluuya)’s attempts to get photographic proof of a UFO that is seemingly hiding in a cloud above their Hollywood ranch. The film follows the duo’s increasingly outlandish efforts, which soon begin to attract the attention of retired child actor-turned-theme park owner Ricky (Steven Yeun) but like Peele’s others films, there’s much more going on beneath the surface.

The similarities don’t end there. As with Get Out and UsNope blends various genres together in service of tension. Loud and proud comedic wit rubs shoulders with moments of visually mind bending terror, whilst the story ducks and weaves through contemplative scenes of deep introspection and brutal sci-fi satire at many a key moment. The screenplay is incredibly inventive, especially in regards to the alien threat, which feels unlike anything ever seen on the big screen in terms of the concept. Ultimately, the result is a very unique and clever take on tried-and-tested UFO tropes, which is turn complements the horror aspect, which is upped considerably throughout the film with just a few simple yet unnerving visuals.

Throughout all this, Peele questions our addiction to spectacle and explore the dangers of interfering in nature for our own selfish pursuit of gratification. His approach in relating this message is incredibly effective, particularly in the film’s opening moments and a later corresponding flashback, with particularly unsettling scenes due to their minimalism and restraint, which pay off massively later on in terms of character motivation, simultaneously driving home the satirical point of the whole endeavour through nightmarish imagery in a recognisably safe setting. Let’s state the facts: Nope rewards upon a rewatch and the themes within become only more prevalent with each and every viewing.

Nope is also a perfectly good horror film on a technical level with fine cinematography from Hoyte van HoytemaJohnnie Burn‘s sensational sound design is inventive and immensely atmospheric, giving life to the unknown and creating a soundscape that ups the tension and horror to a huge degree. The visual effects and production design are a match made in heaven when it comes to the creation of a wholly unique and visually arresting UFO that stalks the skies, whilst the score from composer Michael Abels is beautifully understated and disquieting throughout. Performances too are equally splendid, particular those of Keke Palmer as Em and Brandon Perea as the Haywood’s tech-savvy assistant Angel, whilst Daniel Kaluuya strikes a wholly captivating presence with his character through his superbly natural, minimalist performance.

Nope is a disturbing and inventive sci-fi thriller that’s big on visual beauty and unsettling social commentary, peppered with dark biting humour and marvellous thrills throughout.

Kaluuya and Writer/Director/Producer Peele on set

Blu-ray Extras: The Special Features offer up short doc Shadows: The Making of Nope – which lets the cast and crew take you deep inside of the making of this extraordinary movie, which at nearly an hour is a remarkable and fascinating way to learn even more about the process, the production, and the stories within the filmmaking. There’s also a selection of five deleted scenes, a featurette about ‘Jean Jacket’ – which is the object of the Haywood siblings’ fascination – we hear about the conception, design, and execution of this mysterious, freaky organism, plus a further dive into The Horse in Motion by Eadweard Muybridge and finally a gag reel with outtakes and bloopers, things we all love in the extras!

Nope is out now on Blu-ray, 4K UHD and DVD, order here: https://amzn.to/3A8bSYE

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