Aster’s review published on Letterboxd:
There are sequences in Nope that are among the best in contemporary horror, bar none. The entire stretch from when Kaluuya goes to retrieve Lucky from Jupiter's Claim to when he returns to his house is one of the best executed and most chilling horror sequences of the past decade. The sustained build up of mood and revelation is absolutely masterful. A paranoid thriller, a classic monster movie, and a vision of the apocalypse. The textures of atmosphere, darkness, fog, blood rain, stand alone in their brilliance among contemporary American cinema. But for every brilliant passage in Nope there are two or three sequences that are downright terrible. In particular, those stretches given over to planning and discussion, are written, blocked, and framed like a cheap streaming original show, something you'd find buried on Hulu or Netflix. A good example is the diner sequence after the revelation of what they're all dealing with. The scene where Kaluuya, Palmer, and Perea are standing outside the diner in a circle devising a plan feels as corny and clunky as South Park parodying The Goonies. This inconsistency in tone, approach, and style plagued Us and continues in Nope. The oscillation from brilliance to hack work is disorienting. It recalled for me Alone in the Dark (1982) in that it combines the most brilliant and terrifying sequences with some of the dumbest shit ever. At times the shots and rhythms are indistinguishable from the generic horror stylings associated with "elevated horror" (are we still using that term?) and A24 (not a monolith, I know): perfectly symmetrical framing, dark saturated color grading, slow zoom in for portent (the overuse of ellipses to maintain mystique got real tired real fast). At others, it's as naturally virtuoso as Spielberg and Shyamalan, where space is constructed through movement and character's lines of vision. And again at others it's SNL and Disney+. To clarify, I'm not dismissing the aesthetics of "elevated" or A24, but rather the way that they are employed here feels rote compared to how free moving the best moments of this film are. I'm not sure what accounts for this mishmash of styles and levels of quality. Did Peele spend a ton of time on the good parts and slapped together the rest? Or perhaps he's going for the kind of genre and tone amalgamations that Bong Joon-ho excels at in The Host, but just can't sustain it for a two hour feature? As the film goes on it begins to transition into different modes, but it doesn't maintain the same level of technique or skill. Upon the masterful reveal of what the thing actually is (a brilliant twist), it stands along side Jaws, War of the Worlds, or Signs in it's tone and rhythm. Peele is a master of the set piece. But shortly after this reveal it becomes something more like Tremors, or worse, Super 8: a hackneyed cornball adventure. While this sequence has it's highlights (the tube man TMZ set is brilliant) it's also peppered with a lot of crap. The character of the cinematographer is fucking stupid. Bargain basement Quint that plays more like parody or some goofy-ass figure out of a Mad Max film. The character seemed forced by the subtext and not by the needs of the monster movie.
Overall, I really enjoyed this. There were several moments that gave me goosebumps. It's always a thrill to have a visceral physiological response to a film (body genres!). I'm excited for Peele to either (a) figure out how to do these tone shifts better or (b) make a horror film that is firmly in one tone or style.