Dan Abel’s review published on Letterboxd:
"I will cast abominable filth at you, make you vile, and make you a spectacle." -Nahum 3:6
"What's a bad miracle? Hmm? They got a word for that?"
OJ Haywood and his father Otis Sr. own a horse ranch in rural California where they train horses for use in Hollywood films. One seemingly normal day the two are in the yard when suddenly they hear a noise and a storm of small metal items rain from the sky. A common nickel coin kills Otis Sr. with a shot to the head. The official explanation cites a freak incident with a prop plane but OJ never quite believed the story. Fast forward some time and OJ is struggling to run the ranch on his own. He reconnects with Emerald, his younger sister, and the two head back to the ranch after a failed gig. That night their fathers horse escapes and OJ witnesses a UFO sighting. They two then dedicate their time to filming a UFO to make enough money to save the ranch and possibly solve the mystery their late father's death.
Anytime I see the name Jordan Peele I know there will be two armies. One of which consists of haters and the other are those who overrate his work. I have seen a metric fuck-ton of that hovering over this one since it's release, just as I did with Us and Get Out in regard films he has directed, and the same with the Candyman remake that he co-wrote. I've seen two of those, Us which I liked and Candyman which I wasn't too fond of. Those who don't resort to either extreme seem to be the minority and I put myself in that category. Generally I am a fan of the work that I have seen thus far, and I love how it advances my beloved horror genre forward but none of it has ever blown my socks off. I like science fiction, I adore horror, and I love the combination of the two. With a bright mind like Peele at the helm was stoked to give it a go. The end result falls somewhere in between Us and Candyman.
As far as camerawork and well framed shots are concerned, Nope excels with excellent use of color most notably in the night time scenes where the blue hues really pop. That is one of the high points. I was going to say that I love how they "recreated" the legendary Fry's Electronics store with the crashed UFO façade, but it caused me to do a google search which led me to this article which states that the owner of the now liquidated retail chain held off sale of that particular store to give Peele the chance to shoot there before it was closed forever. An awesome farewell to a beloved brand of unique stores. Another high point! unfortunately, those highs are met in stark contrast with some major lows.
Nope is the ultimate mixed bag of hits and misses. I was captured in a way that few films had ever gotten me before in the first two acts of it's two-plus hour runtime. The "Gordy" segment had me glued 'til the point that my eyes burned when it was over and I realized that I didn't blink for far too long. I don't think I've ever done that before, so there is a big bag of kudos to the production team. I was enamored by the plot until the third act which went a long way in destroying the suspense and the mystery built by the two before it. I really hate it when that happens. Two great acts that lead to a thud of a third with a lackluster ending to cap it off. What a disappointment.
Nope has one of the dumbest film titles for the genre that I have ever seen, even if it does tie in to some of the spoken dialogue, but don't let that fool you, Nope is definitely worth watching. Until a certain point it has some of the most effective UFO representations that I've ever seen. When you see the first part with the screaming you'll know what I mean, but a can't elaborate further without spoilers, so I leave you to find out for yourself. The third act and the ending go a bit too "Hollywood" for me but overall I still enjoyed this film regardless of the bloated runtime and disappointing conclusion.
"Fun and done?" Yeah that works.