You’d be forgiven for thinking that Jordan Peele’s upcoming movie Nope would be a horror movie. Before he stepped into the world of filmmaking, all signs pointed to Peele forging a career in the realm of comedy movies after his time on Saturday Night Live, but he has quickly gained a reputation as one of the brightest modern horror directors.
His first movie, Get Out, took the world by storm with its razor-sharp social commentary and handling of racial dynamics in America. it had everything; moments of uncomfortable humor, terrifying jumpscares, and one of the best plot twists in movie history. Make no mistake, Get Out is one of the best horror movies of the last decade and an incredibly impressive debut.
Peele then followed that up with Us, a searing study of the duality of mankind, an exploration of what happens when our darker, more animalistic side is unleashed. Peele has so far asked his audiences to look around us, to look inwards, and with Nope, he averts our attention to what lies above. But, is Nope a horror movie?
The word on the street is that the studio behind Nope would prefer it to be referred to as a psychological thriller movie, with Universal insisting that this is not a horror. That’s fair enough, but the marketing for the new Jordan Peele joint certainly looks like a horror to me.
From the trailers for Nope, all evidence suggests that this movie is indeed part of the horror genre. People dying, animals acting weird, mysterious objects descending from the sky, and what appears to be a blood-soaked house – key indicators that something wicked this way comes.
Many suspect, understandably so, that Peele is cooking up an alien movie. In the trailers, we can clearly see some kind of UFO in the sky, and the characters reference aliens multiple times. Despite these science fiction movie links, that doesn’t stop Nope from being a horror movie.
After all, Alien is one of the scariest movies of all time, isn’t it? Indeed, the concept of there being other forms of life in our universe is absolutely fascinating and very exciting in theory, but the moment we actually learn we are not alone, I’m pretty sure the human race will fall to its knees in fear.
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There’s a theory that the title Nope is actually an acronym that stands for “Not Of Planet Earth,” which if true, would almost certainly confirm the fact that aliens are at the heart of Jordan Peele’s next creation. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned from Peele’s short but stunning career to date, it’s that we should expect the unexpected.
Peele is a master of misdirection, and the marketing campaigns for his previous two movies were just as ambiguous as the one in place for Nope. There is even a line in the final Nope trailer where Kaluuya’s character OJ says, “It is not what you think.” Has Peele already laid the breadcrumbs for another huge plot twist?
If Nope doesn’t contain a major shock in its narrative, that would perhaps be the biggest surprise of all. Though, if this movie doesn’t at least dip its toe in the horror genre, that would be truly astonishing. After all, how much difference is there between a horror movie and a psychological thriller anyway?
The fact that the studio has been keen to distance itself from the tag of a horror movie is perhaps indicative of Universal’s desire to throw Nope’s hat in the ring for awards season. Historically, The Academy has not looked fondly upon the horror genre, with Universal properties like Us and The Invisible Man being snubbed in recent years.
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Whether it be a strategic move by the studio to enhance the movie’s awards credibility, or a marketing misdirection to keep audiences on their toes, one thing’s for sure, Nope looks set to be another thrilling creation from the mind of Jordan Peele. Regardless of what genre it falls into, we’re ready for Nope to shock us in ways only Peele can.