In Jordan Peele’s bizarre cinematic world, it’s not always about some ghostly appearance. Jordan’s vivid cinematography and panic-inducing storytelling have always left a lasting impression on the audience, which we have already experienced in his previous films “Get Out” and “Us.” Beyond ghosts and the mainstream horror genre, Jordan brings to the world of horror entertainment his masterful portrayal of using socio-political contexts to make people aghast. His recently released “Nope” is no exception in this regard, which once again demonstrates Jordan’s brilliant symbolism and efficacious spine-chilling narrative. From the trailer, some conspiracy theories have already declared “Nope” as a UFO sci-fi movie, but from the movie, we get a clear view of something more sinister going on. So let’s find out what horrors are present in Jordan Peele’s new film that will make us say, “Nope!”
Daniel Kaluuya has already become Jordan’s favorite actor, and he is worth it. It’s because after his brilliant performance in “Get Out,” he is back again to bring life to the lead character, “Otis Junior” of Nope. Apart from Kaluuya’s stunning impression, we have Keke Palmer as Otis’s sister Emerald, who is just the heart of this movie. Her lively performance, with a comedic approach, wins our hearts the moment she is brought to the screen. We also get Jupe, played by Steven Yeun, and Angel Torres, played by Brandon Perea. Notable is the presence of Jupe, whom Jordan has used as a pinch of spice in his recipe. Peele depicts a dreadful incident by blending his imagination with a real-life incident that symbolizes the evilness of a creature. But why this evilness is a necessity in the story and how all the characters are connected to it, that is a matter of discussion.
Character: Gordy And Ricky ‘Jupe’ Park, Explained
The movie begins with the horror of a chimpanzee named Gordy. It looks like an onstage sitcom shoot, where a shoe stands in the middle of a bloodbath. We see Gordy take the hat off his head in frustration, as if he’s tired of showing off his wildness. But as the film begins to unfold, we learn that a small child manages to survive amid the terrifying situation. This kid has now grown into a man named Ricky ‘Jupe’ Park.
Ricky now owns a western theme park, where he earns fame and money by exploiting the incident of his escape from Gordy’s aggression. After the death of Otis Junior’s father, he and his sister sell a horse on their ranch to Ricky to make ends meet. There, Otis’ sister Emerald learns from Ricky of his release from Gordy’s clutches, and Ricky somewhat haughtily tells her about it. He tells them about the 1998 sitcom show “Gordy’s Home.” He stores some of the pieces from the show, including that mysterious shoe that he presents like an exhibition, saying that he usually gets paid for them. We see Ricky leave no chance to proudly present his story to OJ and Emerald. Even listening to him, we realize that he thinks of himself as gifted for being the only survivor of Gordy’s attack. He may think that he has some supernatural power by which he can tame any animal. So maybe that’s why he decides to run a western theme park later, and for that, he buys horses from OJ. Both OJ and Ricky benefit from this, but when his eyes fall on the ranch, OJ doesn’t agree at all.
Everything seems to be perfect, but a sinister UFO appears in the sky, constantly devouring OJ’s horses. To gain more publicity, Ricky arranges a live show where he exposes OJ’s horse as a UFO victim. A childhood incident affects Ricky in such a way that he becomes overconfident about his life, thinking that he can even tame a UFO. We see a veiled woman in the audience whom Ricky introduces as Mary Jo Eliot, that is, his co-star whose face was severely injured by Gordy’s attack. We see a grown-up Mary Jo Eliot, whose face still eerily bears that attack’s impression.
Ricky’s stupidity doesn’t pay off well, though. When the horse-devouring UFO appears in the sky above the live show, Ricky is taken aback, but he doesn’t back down from his promise to go on with the show, anyway. Or rather, Ricky’s inner ego doesn’t let him get away with thinking that something terrible could happen to him. But the UFO proves him wrong. When Ricky and the audience look up at the sky, it engulfs everyone. We realize it’s not a UFO but a strange creature that’s devouring everyone to satisfy its hunger.
Ricky was just a fortunate victim of Gordy’s vicious attack. When Gordy went wild, Jupe, i.e., Ricky, took refuge under the table to escape his death, causing his eyes to lock onto the oddly placed shoe. As a result, he did not make eye contact with Gordy. Gordy thought he might have found the only Jupe who wasn’t harmful to him, so he gave Jupe a fist bump before the rescue team shot him. So Gordy probably wouldn’t hurt Jupe. This incident did not teach Ricky anything at all, but instead instilled in him a false sense of his abilities. So when this strange creature from the sky soars over Ricky’s show in search of prey, Ricky’s overconfidence and lack of knowledge bring him death as a result of his stupidity. And thus, by ending all the victims of Gordy’s attack, the disgust of the story gets closure.
Character: Emerald Haywood, Explained
Emerald Haywood is a vivacious, charming girl who appears like a lightning bolt to save her brother’s honor. After the death of Otis Haywood, aka Emerald and OJ’s father, when the responsibility of their ranch falls on this sibling, they try to do it well. Haywood’s ranch horses are used in film production houses, and the business has been passed down through the Haywood family. After Otis’s death, when his son OJ arrives at a film shoot with a horse, his introverted self prevents him from fluently explaining the rules and regulations surrounding horses in front of everyone, but his sister Emerald comes to his rescue. Emerald describes the instructions smartly through her dapper body language. Along with that, she also does a bit of self-advertisement about her motorcycle riding, singing, and acting talents, which nobody on the set is very interested in. But we’re interested when Emerald reveals that the black man we see riding a horse in the 2/2 clip of the assembly of photographs for the first motion picture is her great-great-great-grandfather. Although not everyone on the set feels very intrigued, Emerald takes pride in this, and we start to love her simple sweetness. But the problem arrives when their horse violently behaves in the setting, causing them to lose their job.
Emerald has a bit of a talkative personality, and for that, she gets into trouble with her brother. But it’s a sibling thing. When OJ talks about selling his horse at Ricky’s western theme park, Emerald expresses her childlike curiosity about Ricky’s belongings. We see her being excited throughout the time when Ricky tells her about the SNL show about Gordy’s attack. However, the scarcity of money does not keep people ordinary for long, and in Emerald, we see a constant attempt to be extraordinary. Emerald doesn’t object when Ricky offers to buy their ranch, but OJ flatly interrupts.
On a fine evening, we see her talking to her brother about her grief that she never got a chance to train her favorite horse, Jean Jacket. She expresses how she was overlooked by her father for her being a woman. But OJ states that both her father and Eme are hardheaded. As we have seen before, Emerald almost agreed to sell her ranch. On the one hand, that proves she’s only being practical about life, but on the other hand, she’s about to lose her soft corner. That makes her actions no different from her father’s attitude. But OJ takes pride in the fact that, like his father, Emerald can handle difficult situations with a firm grip.
Their tension is heightened by a sinister creature that flies in the sky like a UFO and devours OJ’s horses. Emerald figures out that she can make a lot of money by exposing these UFOs, which will make up for their lack. In this regard, she collects some cameras and installs them on the roof of their house, but they are unable to capture the UFO due to the arrival of a mantis. Rather, this UFO can destroy electricity as well as consume horses. She suggests a famous filmmaker, Antlers Holst, make a documentary about the killer UFO, but he doesn’t seem to be interested in it. However, when Ricky’s live show gets swallowed by the UFO, she finally becomes aware of its true identity, which turns out to be a monstrous carnivorous animal. After the incident starts to be telecasted, Antler finally comes to their aid. Emerald gets a clear view of how the creature attacks its prey. She is told by her brother not to look up at the sky as the creature hunts the victims through eye contact. But in the final scene, when OJ’s path is blocked by the creature, Emerald bikes out of there, clutching her chest at her brother’s command. However, it is completely wrong to think of her as a fugitive. Rather, she is plotting to end this beast forever. And we marvel at seeing her intelligence in a complex situation. Emerald arrives at the theme park, where there is a large-scale hot air balloon that she throws into the sky and distracts the expanding creature in the sky. Finally, when the octopus-like stanzaic creature in the sky swallows the hot air balloon, it gets blasted to death by overheating. Emerald does something that makes her brother proud of her. Therefore, according to her dream, Emerald might be called on the Oprah show, and her victory might be cheered everywhere to save mankind from a terrifying animal.
Character: OJ, aka Otis Junior, Explained
Otis Junior is the lead protagonist of this story, whose father’s death begins the onset of horror. OJ stands on the ranch with his father, tending to some horses and discussing his sister Emerald, but OJ’s peace is disturbed when his phone switches off, and he hears something falling from the sky. Tragically, it turns out that a sharp coin from the sky penetrates his father’s eye and kills him. To OJ, this phenomenon is presented strangely, and he calls it a “Bad Miracle,” which is known as a myth in the past. OJ is a very introverted and serious man, upon whom comes the responsibility of his deceased father’s ranch. The ranch’s horses are supplied for Hollywood movies. So he arrives at a film set where he’s about to explain the precautions about his horse in front of everyone. OJ’s inability to make eye contact irritates the people present on the set, and he seems to be very uncomfortable interacting with people.
However, when one of the men on the set looks into the horse’s eyes, it jumps violently, causing OJ to lose his job. But to make ends meet, OJ wants to sell his horse to Ricky. And as we see, Ricky’s survival story is something he exploits to make money. OJ is not at all interested in that but rather finds it unnecessary. Although after this father’s death, we see him making independent decisions, he still takes responsibility in some places. When Ricky wants to buy their ranch, he completely disagrees, as it is their ancestral property that he never wants to lose. However, the biggest problem of all is the UFO-like beast roaming in the sky, which starts devouring OJ’s horses one by one.
We find OJ rationalizes his problem. When his sister gets emotional over some old memories, OJ handles her strongly. As an elder brother, he becomes the sole guardian of his sister, whom he wants to protect from harm. So he sets out to track down the UFO in Emerald’s quest to make money. Along the way, OJ meets Angel Torres, who stands by them as a good human being to help them by providing the cameras to expose the UFO in front of the world.
When OJ arrives at Ricky’s live show, where Ricky invited him earlier, he finds that the UFO has already finished his meal, but he survives the journey because he doesn’t make eye contact with it. He finally realizes which UFO they are going to expose; it’s a ferocious, life-devouring creature. The situation becomes more terrifying when the beast appears above OJ’s house and starts blood-vomiting. OJ stays in the car and doesn’t dare get out for fear of death. However, he soon learns the beast’s attack technique, so in an anxious state, he rescues his sister and Angel and flees the scene for the night.
When Antler Holst joins OJ and Emerald to make a documentary about the creature, a reporter with an electric bike arrives on the scene who does not know about its horror. But OJ cannot be calm and runs after the reporter to save his life. As the reporter clumsily talks about the camera footage, even when he has fallen from his bike, OJ finds it more important to save his own life as he is just being practical. However, when the creature comes from all around and tries to swallow OJ, he doesn’t make eye contact at all, instead cleverly covering his horse’s eyes with a mask. Although he survives repeated attacks, he can no longer stay quiet when the creature attacks his sister, Emerald. When she comes out with the bike, OJ makes sure that the creature doesn’t follow her, so like a dutiful big brother, he distracts the creature from saving his sister’s life by drawing its attention to himself. When Emerald heads off towards the theme park, we see OJ offering himself to the creature’s enlarged form, causing it to hunt him. But when Emerald finally kills the creature by throwing a hot air balloon in the sky, we see that at the end of the blast, in a smoky atmosphere, Emerald finds her brother OJ on his black horse standing in front of the gate of the theme park.
So is he alive, or is this picture just an illusion of Emerald? But most likely, OJ is alive because when Emerald threw the balloon into the sky, the creature was unfolding its layers to devour OJ. But when the large balloon caught its eye, the creature ran to swallow it in a fit of greed, leaving OJ behind. This results in the death of the creature through an explosion that leaves OJ’s life spared on this journey.
Final Words: The Purpose Of The Characters
These characters are very well written and purposeful in terms of the storyline and its social context. Jordan brilliantly portrays the struggle of OJ and Emerald to pay tribute to those people closely involved in the production of the movie who provide their diligence while staying behind the camera.
Linking up the UFO-like beast with Gordy’s incident is a master stroke of perfect symbolism by Jordan Peele. The way Gordy’s story raised our eyebrows may have been exactly Jordan’s cinematic goal. Some have connected Gordy’s existence with aliens, and others have said it’s completely unnecessary, but Gordy’s horror is a cinematic masterpiece used by Jordan Peele to scare people. This incident becomes even more terrifying when we know that Gordy’s event is a cinematic version of a real chimpanzee named Travis’ terrible attack on its owner. Jordan proves once again that nothing is scarier than reality.
From the beginning of the movie, Jordan comes up with the idea of how eye contact makes a wild animal violent, which later applies to the UFO-like creature roaming in the sky. But the story takes a remarkable turn when OJ, unable to make eye contact, uses his disability to escape his death. Although, in the end, he is forced to overcome inertia to save his sister’s life and face the beast, life gives him another chance to survive because a selfless character like OJ deserves to live.