Director Jordan Peele released “Nope” on July 22. It is the third horror movie he has written, produced and directed, and it has already made more than $100 million at the box office.
His previous films, “Get Out” (2017) and “Us” (2019), helped build anticipation for the newest release as he continues to establish his cryptic style of storytelling.
“Nope” follows siblings OJ and Emerald Haywood, who run a horse ranch in California, as they discover something unknown in the skies above and the owner of a theme park nearby tries to profit from the spectacle. It stars popular actors Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer.
Peele spoke with Essence magazine about how he wanted the latest film to differ from other Black horror. He achieved this by incorporating moments and feelings of joy for the characters, Peele said.
“It’s so tricky being considered in the vanguard of Black horror, because obviously Black horror is so very real, and it’s hard to do it in a way that’s not retraumatizing and sad,” Peele said in the Essence interview. “I was going into my third horror film starring Black leads, and somewhere in the process I realized that the movie had to be about Black joy as well in order to fit what the world needs at this moment.”
In the last five years, Peele’s films have begun to show a pattern: he builds the story around a broader fear. Connecting that fear to the darker parts of human nature is a vital part of his work.
“The point that I latched onto that really scared me was when I thought about how humans are addicted to spectacle,” Peele said in an interview with JoBlo. “We’re addicted to spectacle to the point where it feels like we could run off a cliff chasing it.”
In his Academy Award winning film “Get Out,” Peele draws the horror from personal experience. The movie is about young photographer Chris Washington visiting his white girlfriend’s rich family as the weekend starts to take a sinister turn. Kaluuya plays the leading man in this story that touches on topics such as the liberal elite and a post-racial America.
Peele intended to depict the fear of being a Black man and the difficulty of differentiating bigotry and paranoia, he told the New York Times. He wanted his leading character to offer up a hero in a time of turmoil.
His second film, “Us,” follows Adelaide Wilson as she takes her family to the beachfront home she grew up in. The vacation turns dark when their doppelgängers show up, ready to fight. Wilson is played by Academy Award winning actor Lupita Nyong’o.
“It is meant to explore the idea of questioning one's identity and having to face the darkest part of ourselves,” Peele said in an interview with NPR.
His talent for writing is apparent when you look at his collection of work and how he is able to transform broad fears into a piece of art meant to elicit a similar feeling. Kaluuya, who stars in both “Get Out” and “Nope,” shares his feelings on Peele’s style.
“I feel like you have expanded horror already, and now you're doing it again — giving it scale and epicness,” Kaluuya told Peele in an interview with Essence.
“Nope” has been met with comparisons to legendary films, such as “Jaws” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” Reviewers advise seeing it on the biggest screen you can find.
Peele’s ideology, where people are the scariest monsters, will no doubt bring forth more exciting work that sparks internet craze and theories before impressing audiences once again.