After a so-so visit to the Twilight Zone on television, Jordan Peele finds a better home for the mindset with his new movie Nope. Set in Agua Dulce, one of southern California’s lesser developed spaces with its ranch roots and open spaces intact, the setting suits multifaceted ideas that Peele pursues in his mix of Hollywood history and alien encounters.
A movie, television, and pop culture buff, Peele blends it all for fun and jolts. He starts bloody when a creepy chimpanzee goes berserk on a television set. A second strange incident occurs before opening credits begin and switch to a pair of horse training siblings pushing their product and unique history for stunts on another project. That history goes back to something any student of film knows about, moving images of a black jockey riding a horse.
All this information provides insight into what quickly unfolds, an adventure with gadgets, gags, striking effects, and a vital sequence of a man speeding on his horse. Peele keeps it all together with a mix of characters whose “WTF” reaction comes off with a blend of humor and seriousness that seems appropriate under the bizarre circumstances that keep popping up. Among the characters, KeKe Palmer steals the show, an impressive feat since her fellow actors include lead Daniel Kaluuya from Get Out and Steven Yeun from Minari. Peele gives Palmer the most and best wise cracking lines, and she runs with them, almost as fast as Kaluuya rides his movie horse.
They never cover much distance, nor do they get to explore the more serious kinds of issues found in Get Out.
But like an amusement park—and of course, there is one in the story—the actors join Peele in putting on a bedazzling show.