Hello film fans and welcome once again to the House of Macleod’s movie review corner! Today we take a look at Jordan Peele’s NOPE (2022 15 2h10m) Starring Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Steven Yuen, Michael Wincott, Brandon Perea, Wrenn Schmidt, Barbie Ferreira and Keith David. Well, I didn’t know what to make of NOPE at first. Given the hype and secrecy of its release and the limited trailers and media, I expected to sit down to a bloody great sci-fi horror. Man, was I disappointed. There are many problems with NOPE but the biggest problem, in my opinion, isn’t its terribly slow pace or its awful script or intelligible dialogue, it's that I’ve seen this movie before and done far better I might add. It harkens back to the kind of sci-fi that made SIGNS (2002) or WAR OF THE WORLDS (1953) great films and tries for the sort of awesome tension that these films expertly created. Unfortunately, it falls flat in delivering this, with a story that is both boring and about as scary as a hug from your grandma. NOPE is about OJ (Kaluuya) and Emerald (Palmer), a brother and sister who have inherited a ranch running Hollywood horses after their father (David) passes away in some very mysterious circumstances. When a cloud appears that doesn’t move like the other clouds and starts messing with said horses, OJ decides to investigate and finds a UFO stalking the flatlands and surrounding areas. Realising that his business is dying he decides inexplicably to capture the UFO on film and be the first to have genuine proof of extraterrestrial life. Kaluuya is normally a fantastic actor but in this, he just seemed quiet and to be honest, almost scared to say his lines, which I found jarring and off-putting. Keke Palmer is the polar opposite however and maybe this was intentional, but I found her loud, brash and kind of annoying. There were also sections of this movie that made no sense, such as a whole flashback of backstory featuring a TV chimp that loses his shit and (if you’ll excuse the pun) goes ape on his handlers during the taping of a TV show that he is part of. This sets up a backstory for a character that Peele quickly kills off making the flashback sequence totally pointless. Now, it's not all bad. Just most of it. Hoyte Van Hoytema handled the cinematography and I’ll be honest, he did a great job, having filmed the likes of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (2008), DUNKIRK (2017) and one of my personal favourite movies of all time, INTERSTELLAR (2014), you can see his quality work through the sweeping shots of the Agua Dulce desert in northern Los Angeles County using 65mm film in IMAX, making it the first horror (if you can call this that) of its kind to be shot this way. The film itself is 130 minutes long and boy do you feel every second. Peele hits trope after trope with fake jump scares and shock tactics that ultimately lead to nothing and a finale that is about as exciting as reading a train timetable. There were however a few nice surprises though like bringing Michael Wincott back from the dead as a burnt-out cinematographer trying to get one last “Impossible shot”, although I swear I spent this whole movie waiting for him to tell me my childhood was over the moment I knew I was going to die.
NOPE is one of those movies, it tries for modern arthouse, it tries to improve on its predecessors, it tries for shock value disguised as horror but It fails on all three counts. Now, I could rant all day about how much this movie sucked but I won’t, I’ll leave you with the knowledge that NOPE is available to rent on most major VOD services as of today Thursday 25th August. Oh, and to add insult to injury, a 4K rental from Prime Video will set you back a whopping $19.99 for a 48hr window. Ouch.
House of Macleod official verdict: 2/10 Looks like chicken, smells like fish.