This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

“What’s a bad miracle? They got a word for that?”


But maybe they do have a word for that. Plague comes to mind, a word starkly evoked by a biblical downpour of blood straight out of the book of Exodus. In Exodus, they serve as signs and wonders, but also as warnings. Similarly, in NOPE, these otherworldly occurrences can be viewed as a response to exploitation of things far beyond our understanding. A shoe standing perfectly upright in the midst of an extremely calamitous, traumatic event? May seem innocuous, but it would stick with Jupe forever as a reminder of how nature responded to an unnatural situation, although ultimately we see that he learned the wrong lesson about this in choosing to commodify his own trauma and continue exploiting unpredictable and dangerous forces.

Now I don’t believe the movie is telling us that a god is making these things happen, although I find it interesting how the creature’s final design more closely mirrors that of a biblically accurate angel than nearly anything I’ve ever seen. Perhaps there is something to be said about this creature (or many others) having existed long enough in the world of this movie to have directly inspired the myths of both flying saucers and angels based on the different forms it takes.

Beyond all of this, NOPE carries a message which will strike a chord with anyone who has created or enjoyed the spectacle of something which may have been curated through not-so-ethical means. This movie is about a lot of things, but the notion that exploitation is inherent to art is central to all of it. Art is always exploitative, the question is whether the artist is exploiting something of their own— their image, as seen with Jupe and the other victim of Gordy’s rampage selling and wearing their own merchandise— or something they have no ownership over— a chimpanzee or the mysterious creature. How much can we get away with before we encounter some resistance? 

Resistance in this story is manifested in two of the most alarming, disturbing sequences I’ve seen in any movie recently, a brutal and uncomfortable sequence of Gordy snapping into a bloody rage, and a horrifying abduction of forty people who were slowly and agonizingly digested while still living over several hours. These two sequences will remain with me for a long long time. Brilliant horror filmmaking, surrounded by a movie which is endlessly well made, suspenseful, and awe-inspiring. Still floored by NOPE on this second viewing. Peele delivers movie magic & spectacle in the most pure and exhilarating form.

Block or Report

Daniel liked these reviews