davidehrlich’s review published on Letterboxd:
How do we live with some of the shit that we’ve been forced to watch on a daily basis? Why are we so eager to immortalize the worst images that our world is capable of producing, and what kind of awful power do we lend such tragedies by sanctifying them into spectacles that can play out over and over again?
While Jordan Peele has fast become one of the most relevant and profitable of modern American filmmakers, “Nope” is the first time that he’s been afforded a budget fit for a true blockbuster spectacle, and that’s exactly what he’s created with it. But if this smart, muscular, and massively entertaining flying saucer freak-out is such an old school delight that it starts with a shout-out to early cinema pioneer Eadweard Muybridge (before paying homage to more direct influences like “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”), it’s also a thoroughly modern popcorn movie for and about viewers who’ve been inundated with — and addicted to — 21st century visions of real-life terror.
The only sci-fi movie that might scare and delight Guy Debord and Ed Wood to the same degree, “Nope” offers a giddy throwback to the days of little green men and hubcap U.F.O.s that hopes to revitalize those classic tropes for audiences who’ve seen too much bloodshed on their own screens to believe in Hollywood’s “bad miracles.” It’s a tractor beam of a movie pointed at people who’ve watched 9/11 happen so many times on network TV that it’s lost any literal meaning; who’ve scrolled past body cam snuff films in between Dril tweets; who’ve become accustomed to rubbernecking at American life from inside the wreckage.
Less acutely metaphorical than “Us” or “Get Out” and yet just as compelled by the sinister forces that hide in plain sight — along with the double-edged thrill of actually seeing them — “Nope” satisfies our morbid appetite for new horrors better than any multiplex offering in years, but only so that it can feed on our fatal inability to look away from them.