The owners of a horse ranch try to capture proof of a UFO in the area in NOPE. OJ Haywood (Daniel Kaluuya) is the owner of the Haywood Hollywood Horse ranch, who has been struggling to make ends meets after the sudden unexplained death of his father Otis Haywood Sr. (Keith David) six months earlier. Despite receiving help from his sister Emerald (Keke Palmer), OJ is forced to sell off most of the horses to carnival owner Ricky “Jupe” Park (Steven Yeun). One night, a horse on the ranch begins acting crazy and OJ sees a strange object in the sky. Believing that there's a UFO in the area, OJ and Emerald set out the capture proof with the help of electronics salesman Angel Torres (Brandon Perea) and cantankerous filmmaker Antlers Hoist (Michael Wincott).
NOPE is a third feature film from writer/director Jordon Peele (Get Out, Us), which follows the owners of a horse ranch, who try to document the presence of a UFO in the area. That is really all I can say about the film without getting into spoiler territory, though the film is divided into multiple chapters, which includes includes a backstory for Steven Yeun‘s character of Ricky “Jupe” Park, who was a child actor on a sitcom where a chimpanzee named Gordy (motion captured by Terry Notary) went on a rampage. While not immediate apparent, this flashback plays a major role in the ultimate message of NOPE.
After directing two horror films with race-related metaphors, Jordon Peele opts to make NOPE a relatively apolitical film, though Peele does take time to establish that OJ and Emerald Haywood are distant relatives of the horse-riding subject of Eadweard Muybridge's The Horse in Motion from 1878. Arguably the biggest influence on NOPE would be films such as Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind or M. Night Shyamalan's Signs, thought with much more of an R-rated edge, including a couple blood-soaked sequence that might end up giving you nightmares.
In many ways, NOPE is just a much a comedy as it is a horror film, with the repeated utterance of the titular word being the source of much humour during the more harrowing moments. NOPE also has a surprisingly epic scope, particularly during the climax, which is best viewed in the IMAX format the film was shot in.
Overall, NOPE is a satisfying sci-fi horror film that is best seen knowing as little about the plot as possible.