The highly anticipated next film by Jordan Peele, Nope,
starring Keke Palmer, Daniel Kaluuya, Brandon Perea, and Steven Yuen, is finally here and is simultaneously precisely what you might expect from his films and a new, fresh take on the first contact narrative while possessing an identity of its own. The horror elements of Peele's previous films are still present but are significantly toned down and instead focus on spectacle and visuals. While this isn't to say that Nope
is devoid of substance, of which there is plenty, it is his most straightforward work to date narratively speaking. Peele takes us on a journey through the exploration of human instinct and the consequences that can arise from taking advantage of said instinct - morbid curiosity. More specifically, profiteering off the trauma of others or yourself and capitalizing on people's natural curiosity and gravitation toward tragedy.
There is an incredibly traumatic moment in Ricky's (Steven Yuen) life when on the set of a '90s sitcom he was starring in as a child, Gordy's Home,
centering around a chimpanzee named Gordy, he witnessed the chimpanzee become crazed, brutally killing nearly the entire cast of the show apart from Ricky. Ricky and Gordy would eventually begin to share a tender moment only to be interrupted by Gordy getting gunned down just before they embrace. But we don't get this entire story right away. The film revisits this day a multitude of times throughout, uncovering more information each time and it can be quite jarring the first couple of times we're shown this incident. But as the film goes on, it's shown that Ricky has been actually charging people to visit a museum he created featuring memorabilia from the show as it has become incredibly popular due to this tragedy.
But this museum of his own experience isn't the only traumatic opportunism Ricky seeks to exploit. He has since created a theme park based on a UFO that has also recently been discovered by Oj (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald (Keke Palmer) Haywood after a series of inexplicable events take place at their horse ranch, even killing their father in an attack months prior. Ricky has seemingly been aware of this mysterious object for some time and had been purchasing horses from the Haywoods to offer it as a sacrifice for the main spectacle at the park, only to finally agitate the object and cause not only himself but the entirety of the audience to be abducted and ultimately killed, bringing Ricky full circle and receiving a self-fulfilling fate that he just narrowly escaped as a child. But Ricky's insistence on combining spectacle and trauma isn't exclusive to him, the sentiment is even shared to a degree with Oj and Emerald. Their main goal throughout the film is to capture indisputable evidence of the UFO to sell for an enormous sum of money, while less shady, they are not innocent of this impulse. Having all three of these characters related to the media industry is no coincidence. It's to personify our trauma-profiteering obsessed culture and the media that perpetuates it. Peele taps into and explores our twisted sense of curiosity and offers a critique of human behavior.
succeeds tremendously in dealing with