Stevie’s review published on Letterboxd:
Disclaimer: I chose not to put up a spoiler warning because I tried not to disclose anything that might ruin the experience, but it’s worth noting that Nope was designed to be a film you go into knowing as little as possible. If that doesn’t matter to you or if you’ve already seen the film, proceed. If not, feel free to skip over this one.
As highly as I’m rating Nope, I had quite the journey with it. In the beginning, I thought it was…very good, but maybe borrowing a little too much from Close Encounters of the Third Kind? If you want a science fiction film to riff off of, there are worse options galore. But I noticed it, and it instantly told me this wasn’t getting a ten. I also quickly noticed that it was building to some grand statement on film and spectacle and what kind of people make and partake in them, and it certainly does. Not, like, in some crazy revelation like in Get Out or Us. That’s part of why I didn’t really fuck with the ending either, which also isn’t bad by any means but is arguably the very weakest of any of Peele’s third acts.
But if Nope doesn’t have some incredible, bonkers statement on art, I can’t and won’t say that it’s not just as focused on metaphors, double meanings and being one step ahead of the audience as his other horror films. I enjoy trying to spot Jordan Peele’s Easter eggs and trying to figure out where they’re leading, but just as much, I enjoy the fact that he’s probably throwing imagery at the wall for fuck’s sake. What does the shoe mean? Who cares. What’s with the use of “Sunglasses at Night?” Ehh. Steven Yeun’s wearing a cowboy hat.
Yeah, yeah, I’m sure Peele has a deeper meaning behind the seemingly pointless ideas and motifs, and I’ll learn about them and appreciate the film more in the future. That’s what’s great about Jordan Peele films, his films are so delightfully loaded and designed for repeat viewings. But if he also wants to throw things at the wall for shits and giggles and have nothing mean anything, I’m also happy with that. Nope is about the spectacle. The spectacle, the spectacle, the spectacle. Jordan Peele finally got a considerable budget for one of his horror films, and god damn does he use it.
This film looks amazing (surprisingly except for the actual force provoking this small town), both in the cinematography and that set design, but I was also struck by how amazing it sounds. Maybe it’s just because I saw this in a theater, hell it probably was, but I was just astounding by how well everything is mixed and edited (to say nothing about the visual editing, which also shreds, Oscar nomination incoming). I’m unshakably certain the way the sound is mixed has a deeper meaning, but to explain why would be getting into spoiler territory, so I won’t go too far into detail.
What I will say is thank Christ for Steven Yeun. Everybody’s been pointing toward Keke Palmer being incredible in this, and she definitely is (everyone is, but if you want to pick out Palmer specifically I absolutely will not argue with you), but Yeun portrays all the edges of his character so perfectly well. As charming as Yeun is outside of his work, but also clearly with something going on underneath.
My second favorite sequence of the film has him in it, which lands near the end of the second act, but nothing compares to the one sequence about forty-five minutes in that…honestly might stand as one of the scariest sequences in a horror film so far this decade. It’s that good. To avoid spoiling it for anyone else, I’ll say it’s the sequence with the masks, the praying mantis, and the cloud. Absolutely terrifying, every second of it. I guess part of why the ending disappointed me is that nothing compares to that scene, but I can’t complain too much. I still loved the shit out of the majority of this film. Still not as good or instantly timeless as Get Out, though.
Fucked Up Shit Ville Score: 7/10