Daniel Kaluuya in an orange hoodie on horseback
Courtesy Universal Pictures via BBC

Following the huge success of both Get Out and Us, writer and director Jordan Peele has firmly established himself as the new king of mainstream horror. 

With Nope, Peele decides to mix in science fiction, too, as OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald Haywood (Keke Palmer), who run a ranch outside of Los Angeles, have to do battle with a mysterious force up in the sky, after it starts to impact human and animal behavior. 

For pretty much all of Nope, Peele showcases the same visual talent for haunting imagery and creating tension out of nothing that has made his previous films so captivating. Not only does he immediately get viewers hooked, but he then manages to keep them guessing as the story effortlessly unfolds. 

Behind the camera, it’s cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema’s beautiful yet mesmeric shots and Michael Abels’s stirring score that stand out. Peele also once again displays an innate ability to get the very best out of his cast. Palmer and Kaluuya are perfect foils for each other, as her endless energy delightfully ricochets off his static and monosyllabic persona. 

Which makes it all the more disappointing that Nope’s finale falls so flat. Having done so well to establish the characters and the threat they face, the concluding scenes become too convoluted to make any impact.

Nope is still too fun and has too many effective sequences to be considered a disappointment. It’s just not as resoundingly impressive as we’ve come to expect from Peele. R, 130 min.

Wide release in theaters

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