Nope ★★★★½

2022 is so far spoiling us for inventive, genre-bending blockbusters. Keep them coming I say.

I’m not even sure how to sum this one up… or how to say anything about it without completely ruining the experience for others (even if a certain promotional trailer already bungled things in that regard). By now I think most people probably know what sort of film this is, but for the benefit of those who don’t, let’s just say it’s one of the more inventive movies “of its type” I think I have ever seen. It’s bizarre, imaginative, unsettling, mesmerising; at times genuinely terrifying, at others sidesplittingly funny. It’s the oddball [insert “surprise” genre here]-western-horror-comedy hybrid I didn’t know I needed—but boy am I glad it exists. I don’t know if I’ll be able to un-see some of its more visceral imagery: a blood-spattered chimp beating furiously at the pulverised torso of a limp and lifeless body; the ethereal, rippling, ribbon-like innards of an otherworldly presence, swallowing up its screaming, terrified prey—a sequence that was somehow genuinely horrifying, yet indescribably beautiful at the same time. Nor will I likely soon forget the film’s more amusing quirks: the world-weary cinematographer, Antlers Holst, obsessively hunting for that elusive “impossible shot”; the disgruntled electronics store employee who abandons his humdrum day job to assist our protagonists in their quest for fame and glory; the sheer volume of audible “NOPE”s uttered throughout. The film is just packed full of so many curiosities and oddities. It feels so fresh.

What delights me the most about the film is that it so clearly wears many of its strongest influences on its sleeve, all while etching out its own unique spin on a genre that has been revisited countless times over the years. It’s old-school genre homage, parcelled up as something very contemporary. Jordan Peele has proven that there’s plenty of life in this sort of movie yet, provided you follow his lead and produce something as genuinely idiosyncratic and original as this. This will be in my top ten of the year for sure.

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