Not unlike his first two feature films, Jordan Peele’s Nope combines the horror genre, social commentary, and his unique eye for an entertainingly suspenseful watch. In what has become a staple to his style, Peele utilizes the genre to subvert our expectations and add something new to the realm of UFO films. Peele orchestrates quite a few moving pieces to titillate our curiosity, drawing us closer to the edge of our seat. However, like any Peele film, audiences are left with quite a few questions after the credits roll. Here’s our stab at answering some of the most common ones. Needless to say, major spoilers ahead.
Watch: Nope — VFX & Cinematography Breakdown
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Jordan Peele Nope Explained
What is Nope about?
After the mysterious death of their father via random metal objects falling from the sky, siblings OJ Haywood (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald Haywood (Keke Palmer) inherit the family ranch. Haywood's Hollywood Horses is primarily dedicated to raising horses used in the entertainment industry.
Some time later, the two discover that the ranch is being watched and preyed on by a UFO that hides behind clouds. In an attempt to benefit from an otherwise dreadful situation, OJ and Emerald set out to catch undeniable footage of the UFO that loiters their lot.
With the help of Angel Torres (Brandon Perea), a Fry’s electronic store salesman, OJ and Emerald set up cameras around the ranch. Unfortunately, during the group's next UFO encounter, one camera fails and one is conveniently blocked by a praying mantis. They learn that all electronics shut down whenever the UFO is present nearby.
Neighboring the Haywood ranch is Jupiter's Claim, a movie-based theme park owned by Ricky 'Jupe' Park (Steven Yeun). Ricky is a former child star who is still riding the wave of his young stardom.
Ricky has been buying a few horses from OJ. We also learn about the traumatic experience Ricky faced as a child on a hit sitcom Gordy's Home.
Gordy, a chimpanzee on the show, goes on a murderous rampage during a live taping. His costars and audience members get beaten and ripped apart, but Ricky is spared by Gordy who is ultimately shot down.
Peele sprinkles bits of the incredibly disturbing scene throughout the film. Arguably the most chilling scene is young Ricky hiding from Gordy amidst the bodies and blood.
Later, we find Ricky using the horse ‘Lucky’ that he purchased from OJ in a new attraction to show audience members the UFO that lingers in the area.
The show backfires as the UFO refuses to be tamed, and instead ingests Ricky, his wife, and the entire audience.
After a terrorizing close call with the UFO in which the blood of Ricky and his audience rains down on the ranch, OJ, Emerald, and Angel reach out for help.
To capture the ‘Oprah shot,’ as Emerald puts it, the UFO shot that even Oprah will have to cover, they enlist the help of famed cinematographer Antlers Holst whom the siblings met on a gig.
Antlers Holst only commits to the project after hearing about the disappearance of Ricky and his audience (to which the news attributed to flash floods). Holst brings a film camera that is powered by a hand crank — one that will work without conventional electricity.
The team composes a plan based on a theory that OJ has that the UFO is not a ship, but a living, breathing, eating monster that hunts when hungry. One they nickname Jean Jacket. This brings us to the climactic ending of Nope.
Nope ending explained
With OJ’s theory in mind, they create a plan. OJ and his horse will be used to lure Jean Jacket onto the ranch. Since Jean Jacket typically hides behind clouds, they use the inflatable, wack air guys as a way to locate where Jean Jacket is in the sky.
Once the inflatable's electricity dies, they can see where Jean Jacket is and which direction its headed. Once Jean Jacket exposes itself, Holst will get the Oprah shot using his analog, hand crank camera.
While this plan seemed solid, of course it had to go wrong. The first wrench in the plan occurs when a mysterious motorcyclist drives on the ranch just as the plan gets going. The motorcyclist is a TMZ reporter who is ultimately killed and eaten by Jean Jacket.
The second thing that sends the plan off the rails is when Holst, despite getting a shot of Jean Jacket, decides to get even closer for the ‘impossible shot.’
This unfortunately leads to him being eaten by Jean Jacket as well.
By now, Jean Jacket is angry and channels it toward hunting those left on the ranch. Angel escapes the belly of the beast by wrapping himself in barbed wire, causing Jean Jacket to release him.
Jean Jacket then decides to go after Emerald.
Once OJ sees this, he decides to put himself at risk and divert Jean Jacket away so that Emerald can take the TMZ reporter’s motorcycle and escape.
OJ leads Jean Jacket away and at the last minute pulls out a string of colorful flags which deters Jean Jacket as it has learned not to eat artifacts that can get caught in its throat.
Emerald rides all the way to Jupiter's Claim with Jean Jacket now on her tail. She quickly releases a large, blimp-like balloon from the theme park which Jean Jacket eats and ultimately dies from once they explode inside it.
Not only does Emerald kill Jean Jacket, but she gets Oprah shot using a camera gimmick in the Jupiter's Claim theme park. Remember what I said about a lot of moving pieces?
Nope Movie Explained
So, what is the meaning behind Nope?
To understand the Nope movie meaning it's important to look at the opening quote of the film.
"I will cast abominable filth upon you, make you vile, and make you a spectacle. — Nahum 3:6"
Peele himself has talked about the idea of spectacle being at the forefront of this story. While it may be difficult to find the clear social commentary Peele usually threads within his films, Nope instead serves to stir up conversation. This is apparent when researching the many theories fans have come up with around the film.
Both storylines of the Haywood siblings attempting to capture footage of the UFO and Ricky’s traumatic experience of Gordy’s rampage poke at the idea of spectacle and our unhealthy relationship with it.
In this Nope explained video by Thomas Flight, you can see how the theme of spectacle can be found throughout the film and how Peele discusses its role as the story’s engine.
Compared to Peele’s previous two films, Nope undoubtedly presents a more ambiguous comment on our society and culture. With this comes a story that doesn’t feel quite as tight and complete. However, what Nope does is rather than presenting a more complete social commentary as in Get Out or Us, the film aims to stir up conversations that cause audiences and perhaps the entertainment industry as a whole to reflect for years to come.
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