Jordan Peele’s “Nope” is a bizarre but intriguing must-watch

Nope uses symbolic horror to shed light on the question: Is fame truly worth all that it offers?

“Nope” uses symbolic horror to shed light on the question: Is fame truly worth all that it offers?

Paula Gonzalez, Writer

On July 22, 2022, Universal Pictures premiered “Nope,”a western science-fiction horror film directed and written by Jordan Peele. Changing up the usual presentation of such films, “Nope” is set in Agua Dulce, California, where horse-wrangler siblings OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald Haywood (Keke Palmer) attempt to capture evidence of a presumed unidentified flying object. With precise displays of symbolism and a unique cause for suspense, “Nope” means more than it inherently seems. 

The audience holds their breath as Gordy the Chimp and young Jupe share a fist-bump, a dangerous test of trust. (

The movie begins with a live recording on a 1990s sitcom titled “Gordy’s Home!” It sets the scene of a jolly family celebrating the birthday of their highly intelligent chimp, Gordy, by comically opening presents. During the shoot, the mother figure adds in her witty dialogue, “Somehow, you’d think that a man who can send a rocket into space would be able to manage a halfway decent birthday present. Nope.” The focus then shifts to a little boy who offers his gift, while his sister one-ups him with a presentation of an enormous box. Balloons begin to fly out of the present and the laugh track ensues, when unexpectedly a balloon pops. The screen turns black and all that’s audible are the screams and panic of the sitcom cast. The gory audio stays with the audience as an abrupt pop-up marks the next section of the film.

And so it begins — Jordan Peele shows his articulate use of writing and imagery to tie into the soul of the story. The structure of the movie moves along fluidly with what appeared in the preface, and there’s an overall steady build-up of eerie suspense in each scene until it reaches its climax. The movie’s sound effects immediately produce suspense and thrills; unnatural clicking and wails of fear, along with its matching music score, keep viewers engaged. It piques the audience’s interest and brings out more of who the characters are. 

Amidst a destroyed film set, a peculiar phenomena stands in place. (

The narrative also does well in connecting events from the past and foreshadowing those in the future. It presents the audience with just exactly what it needs to. If viewers keep up with the thematics, then they’re able to appreciate the foundations given from the narrative and the film’s ability to be open to interpretation towards its conclusion.

Understanding the significance of dialogue, Peele utilizes this device to wonderfully keep the attention of his viewers. As seen in the preface, one example is heard simply from the mention of the movie title. “Nope” is pronounced several times for different reasons, but within the preface the attention it receives is purposefully directed to what occurs right after its delivery. The focus goes to the little boy, who we are later introduced to as Ricky “Jupe” Park (Steven Yeun), a key supporting character to the premise of the movie. 

Emerald comes face to face with the deadly anomaly lurking at the Haywood Ranch. (

Years after the tragedy on “Gordy’s Home!”, a freak accident on the Haywood Ranch causes the death of the Haywood siblings’ father. Leaving the ranch in debt, OJ is forced to sell most of their horses and cast others in film production. From the first moment Emerald was mentioned, there is a significant contrast between the siblings. OJ is the older, reserved and impassive sibling, who is adamant about continuing his family’s legacy of horse training. The younger, eccentric hustler, Emerald, seeks a more modern life of fame and fortune, leaving the family business to pursue her arts. After some unsettling sights and disappearances, the siblings team up to investigate an unidentified flying object lurking on their ranch. Looking to document the impossible, the siblings find a prosperous opportunity to serve both their initial wishes. With the previously mentioned devices and Peele’s storytelling, OJ and Emerald waste no time in becoming two diverse and likable characters. Their bond and pragmatic thinking are shown to try and keep each other alive from a sinister life that attempts to swallow them whole.

All is not as it seems at the bloodied Haywood house. (

In essence, through imagery, dialogue and character development, “Nope” is filled with symbolism and strong themes featuring various unique items displayed throughout the movie fit. From a coin to a simple photograph, a slushie machine or even monopoly pieces, each trinket charmingly ties into the narrative. Relating to the thematics, the film’s main message powerfully stems around transparency and exploitation in the Hollywood industry. On careful analysis of dialogue and characters, Peele subtly shows how a false promise of luxury and a hunger for the unknown easily corrupts an ambitious state of mind. 

“Nope” loosely alludes to other famous works and events, such as the Bible, the Travis the Chimp attack and Eadweard Muybridge’sThe Horse in Motion.”All of them are used precisely to relate to themes of abuse, exploitation or legacy. The movie’s original unsettling tone, plus its inclusions of graphic horror, connect among the sinister themes that truly display the real horror — humanity itself. 

Although not fit for everyone, “Nope” is a fresh and thought-provoking horror that uniquely intertwines western action and comedic relief. It takes several ideas that may otherwise appear as a bizarre mix but combines them almost perfectly to fit its overarching theme. For enjoyers of a detailed story and those interested in capturing things for themselves, “Nope” is a great movie to watch at least twice. 

What do you think?