Flix at :48: 'Nope' successfully blends science fiction, Western and horror
Since we're just over the halfway point of the year, I was talking with friends recently about the films I have loved so far in 2022. My list was short, and I was sad. So many films released in theaters this year have been formulaic and predictable, like nobody is willing to take risks or go for broke with different ideas. But I happily saw the new release "Nope," and my list of favorites this year got a bit longer.
"Nope" tells the story of a shy horse wrangler (Daniel Kaluuya, "Judas and the Black Messiah," 2021) and his outgoing sister (Keke Palmer, "Lightyear," 2022) who start seeing flying saucers in the clouds over their dusty ranch in the remote hills of inland California. But instead of running for their lives or searching for an expert to help them, the brother and sister enlist a technology guru to install security cameras, record the flying saucer and get famous from posting the recording online.
"Nope" is fun, exciting and quietly surprising because its casual sense of mystery is consistently maintained, and it's difficult to categorized. Following the growing trend of other films like the Nicolas Cage drama "Pig" (2021), the Mexican documentary "A Cop Movie" (2021) on Netflix, the St. Vincent rock & roll comedy "The Nowhere Inn" (2020) and "The Power of the Dog" (2021), Nope successfully blends the genres of science fiction,
Western and horror.
Carefully placed moments of humor, and a general vibe of millennial apathy, make this film feel like a current-day version of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (1977) or the original "War of the Worlds" (1953). Although UFOs are the focal point for much of Nope, the film is really a salty and forceful display about peoples' constant addiction to new content, new stories and new outlets to entertain.
People might think all the varied elements of "Nope" don't fit well together, because parts are scary, parts are thrilling and parts are funny. It goes in lots of different directions. I don't entirely disagree with that, but this film isn't boring or ordinary. And that should be enough to get people to the movie theater this summer.
Tongue-in-cheek references to classic western movie tropes, and an unsettling metaphor on the control and exploitation of animals, help "Nope" be an interesting ride. It's not a blockbuster, but it's still fun. And thank you to writer, director, produced Jordan Peele ("Get Out," 2017) for helping my summer movie watching feel less monotonous.