When the first trailer for Nope dropped, viewers almost immediately swarmed social media trying to interpret the opaque montage of shots—shots which revealed virtually nothing about the plot of the movie. This is partially of Jordan Peele's own doing, because his first two feature films as a writer-director, Get Out and Us, set up high expectations for twisty, multilayered social commentary by way of popcorn thrills. Even more so it's a product of the current cultural landscape, where seemingly every big movie or TV series is laden with twists and Easter eggs and spoiler-y cameos, lending itself to fervent Reddit threads breaking down the creator's underlying meaning.
Peele surely knows by now what audiences anticipate from him and other filmmakers like him, which is probably why—once again—he's managed to subvert our expectations. Nope isn't so much a plot-twisty experience to be meticulously deconstructed as it is a consistently surprising one. It's a journey that's less social commentary-forward than its predecessors, yet still stacked with plenty of meaning to tease out after you've left the theater.
First and foremost, he wants us to be in awe. And on that front, he doesn't disappoint.
The film opens by quoting a Bible verse from the book of Nahum: "I will cast abominable filth at you, make you vile, and make you a spectacle," followed by a quiet, eerie scene involving an animal that's best left unsaid for first-time viewers; the better to creep you out in the moment. Eventually, Nope drops us into the world of OJ and Emerald Haywood (Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer), a pair of siblings dealing with the loss of their father Otis, Sr. (Keith David) while trying to maintain the family business. Haywood Hollywood Horses is their company, a horse wrangling outfit that's worked with TV and film productions for years and is based in the small California desert valley town of Agua Dulce.