Peele’s ‘Nope’ Might Be Year’s Worst Film

Shockingly bad third act sinks director's dumb, woke-free UFO thriller

Jordan Peele, meet M. Night Shyamalan.

The “Sixth Sense” director was once the toast of Hollywood before his films devolved into tortured “gotcha” exercises. Shyamalan has never been the same, creatively speaking, even if he occasionally teases a return to form a la 2016’s “Split.”

Can we expect a similar arc with Peele following his third film, “Nope?”

Even the best directors have clunkers on their resume – Steven Spielberg’s “1941” may be the best example. It’s how badly Peele orchestras his UFO thriller that should give even his greatest fans pause.

NOPE | Official Trailer

Oscar-winner Daniel Kaluuya stars as O.J. Haywood, son of a Hollywood-approved horse farmer at Haywood Ranch. His pappy (Keith David, in a micro-cameo that screams for more screen time) supplied horses for various TV and movie projects over the years. Now, the son is trying to follow his lead at the horse farm, aided by his headstrong sister, Emerald Haywood, or Em (Keke Palmer, in a grating performance).

A curious cloud collection above their ranch interrupts that quest.

There’s something peculiar in the sky formations, and it forces the Haywoods to consider its connection to both a family tragedy and their immediate survival.

That’s all audiences need to know going into “Nope” beyond the obvious. It’s a UFO thriller, full stop. Peele proved he could expertly arrange a film’s horror elements with “Get Out” and “Us,” so shifting to science fiction felt like a lateral move, talent wise.

Something sizable got lost in the shift.

RELATED: Jordan Peele’s Left-Leaning ‘Us’ Earns Its Progressive Chills

Let’s start with the Haywoods. Kaluuya earned an Oscar for his work in “Judas and the Black Messiah,” and his intensity is a welcome asset for any film. Or should we say “most” movies?

He’s a dullard here, moping around his farm and barely connecting with sister Em, who overacts as if to compensate for her brother’s charisma vacuum. 

You’re rooting for their survival, of course, but barely by genre standards.

The story itself offers a slow-burn template without the details that keep us engaged. The father-son dynamic hinted at in the opening never blooms, nor is there much dramatic tension tied to their horse business.



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The most arresting part of “Nope” has little to do with the actual story. We see, via flashbacks, how a cute animal went wild and destroyed the set of a ’90s TV show. It’s a terrifying sequence showing Peele at his instinctual best. And you could remove every second of it from the film and it wouldn’t change a thing.

“Nope” doesn’t lurch into “Worst Movie of the Year” material until the third act. The characters’ motivations prove elusive, as does any real sense of danger as a flying saucer enters the frame over the amusement park … and elsewhere. The finale drags on, and on, and the pay off is cartoonish and maddening.

Just make this movie stop. Please.

Secondary characters offer some respite, but even they are poorly integrated into the film. Veteran actor Michael Wincott suggests a subplot worthy of our inspection, but his character’s choices make no sense when it counts the most.

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“Walking Dead” alum Steven Yeun gets a curious role, one of many intriguing elements with little emotional payoff. Add in the curious images of a black jockey and nods to the first moving picture ever recorded. Fascinating and maddening all at once.

Peele helped pioneer a new wave of socially conscious, uniformly progressive horror. Previous directors used the genre to send both chills and a message. Think George A. Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead,” the 1968 shocker that explored race relations in a way no other film could.

“Get Out” scorched liberal white guilt, among other contemporary issues, so effectively even liberal white film critics sang its praises. “Us” delivered a more complicated message about culture, class and social mobility. The scares weren’t as intense, but it proved a worthy follow-up to his breakthrough debut. Who doesn’t crave love letters to the horror genre, so often neglected by serious critics.

Neither film wallowed in its messaging. Peele shrewdly kept the story, and scares, top of mind. It’s something other artists routinely fail to do, and why each new Peele movie feels like an event.

“Nope,” for better and worse, offers little to any deeper meaning except one chilling note. Peele may not be the auteur we imagined.

Hit or Miss: “Nope” is more than one of the year’s worst films. It’s a sign Jordan Peele’s narrative instincts are betraying him … and us.


  1. You are a terrible writer. Seriously. The number of times that you will use the term “woke” (out of context, I might add) in any given “review” rivals that of that other right-wing “critic”, Armond White.

    Please find something else to do with your time.

  2. I saw the nostalgic references, but if you look at the movie to me it didn’t have a definite direction, thus it was a bad movie. I think it would have been better to just change some things and make the entire thing a comedy. Those who say it was good are on another planet. Slow, lacking plot, actors seemingly out of place or over or under acting. I was not impressed at all with the cgi alien either. When I saw it I didn’t if I should laugh or be scared. The final scenes where the alien changes shape I was definitely laughing it looked ridiculous. You cannot give this movie a high rating if you are actually attempting to do a legitimate rating. There are some pretty ridiculous replies. on this on here one actually says “dumb ass white people” don’t get the film. Some of those replies are quite racist. It is representative of everything being racialized and not seen for its content. Let’s let everyone have their own opinions and not blame race for the entirety of all that happens in the world.

  3. I’m a big fan of movies I can watch over and over, and pick apart and see new symbols and literary depth each time. Stories built on satire, irony and deep characters that both take itself seriously but also aren’t pretentious about it.

    This movie flopped on this standard.

    Don’t get me wrong, Peele isn’t a terrible writer. He had a penchant for creative settings and intriguing commentary and symbolism. However, in this film, it feels like he tried so hard to be meta and reflective that it comes off as glorified garbage pit to the uninformed, or a pretentious garbage pit to the informed.

    First watch, I was left absolutely lost and confused. This is always a bad sign in stories – truly good stories are both deep and meaningful, but can also leave an emotional impact on those who don’t want to look so deep. Take a look at Shakespeare. His stories entertained and inspired both the common folk and the intellectuals. The fact that Peele’s film confuses much of both and lacks much of an emotional connection is worrisome to begin with. OJ was overly simple and boring and his only depth of character came in a single phrase where he mentioned wanting to further the work his father did, something Peele never built on. Em was horrendously annoying and never expressed any sort of motivation, except ‘get rich and famous’ which is hardly depth.

    So, what about the literary depth and historical references and reflection Peele included? Well, he did have many references to past horror, sci fi and western flicks. They were everywhere. … so what? When William Golding wrote Lord of the Flies and relies heavily on metaphors to Jesus Christ, he isn’t just being clever or intellectual. He is using the story of Christ to further his own plot, in showing that even good people can be lead to do horrible things when chaos and carnal nature is left unchecked. So, what is Peele attempting to tell us? His story is an amalgamation of horror, westerns and sci fi, and even his monster, the jean jacket, chews living things up before spitting it back out, just like his movie does with other popular films, with a vague insinuation that old traditions are dead. But why? What is he trying to tell us? What themes are there, what does the conflict of the story represent? Accuse me of asking simple elementary english class questions, but if you can’t answer these simple questions, then there isn’t any point in trying to see further, because there is no story.

    In summary, Jordan Peele isn’t a bad director. But this film wasn’t it. It was ambitious and tried to be intellectual, but ultimately tried to be intellectual for the sake of being intellectual, yet had no deeper meaning. It came off as pretentious and shallow, seeking to please woke audiences with progressive themes that didn’t actually exist, and trying to appease intellectual audiences with retro references and supposed metaphors and self referencing that just leads in circles. I think the monster itself is a great metaphor for the quality of the film: chews up living organisms, and spits out the cold, inorganic matter onto a film roll, messy and lifeless.

  4. Have you guys ever read a piece of writing for the first time and it was so confusing? So confusing to the point where you thought to yourself, “What was the point?”. Nothing makes sense, what does all these metaphors and phrases mean, and how does it correlate with what this person is talking about!!!!!???? Sort of like learning about William Shakespeare in school lol. Written so well, thought of so thoroughly and creatively, that the only way that you will be able to understand and grasp the ENTIRE point of the art/writing is to reread it and dig deeper into the story and history. It’s clear to a lot of people in these comments that entertainment was what you were seeking for, which is understandable when you go to watch a cinema movie. Yet yall have got to understand lmao. This is JORDAN PEELE baby!!!! JORDAN PEELE in the year 2022 might I add. His aim is not directed at people who think like y’all. sorry not sorry. It’s almost like the saying, “The girls that get, get it. And the girls that don’t, don’t”. Based on his last films, he’s not here to please. More so, expose deep truths about our world, humans barbaric instincts, and expand our horizon when it comes to this universe. I really hope you guys try to give this movie another chance, it really is an experience!!
    P.S- Try to be openminded/open-hearted as well, you’re expectations and biased thoughts can really get in the way of how you process certain things 🙂

    1. Syd, I get you. I think you and I ( and Mr. Peele) would all agree that in historic and contemporary terms Black Folks in this country have many legitimate gripes. Too many have been excluded for too long at the expense of what America is supposed to be, “with justice and liberty for all” regardless of color or creed. I want to see Mr. Peele’s movies be successful in the way “Get out” was. Unfortunately this latest film “Nope” was wasn’t it, as evidenced by the majority of the comments here.

    2. Get yourself together Syd. Begging people to be “open minded, open hearted and unbiased” seems to be why you’re taking their reviews so personally. How arrogant are you to claim these people didn’t watch the movie with an open mind? Most of them said they were psyched to see it. Your approach to their negative reviews would be like a hostess telling a patron they “don’t understand the chef”. If someone doesn’t enjoy something, it does not mean they are too shallow to comprehend it. Try to have “more of an open heart” and take your arrogance down a notch.

  5. Im a little shocked honestly by how many bad ‘reviews’ are in these comments. I watch about 3-5 movies a week.. most of them are boring and uninteresting. Nope was more interesting than 80% of movies I’ve seen lately and has the best box office debut for an original film since 2019. You don’t like it? Sure. Is it a bad movie? Nope.

    I enjoyed the cinematography, the subtle and dry humor and the scares. I’d describe it as a parable of the pursuit of fame and exploitation. Im honestly astounded by the degree of negative feedback that I feel like I must be missing something… Like are people just mad about all the extended closeups on black faces? I’m a white dude and I think the woke movement has definitely overstepped at times, but this movie was not one of those times Jfc lmao…. I get if you don’t like this movie that’s your opinion….but this aint a bad movie god damn

    1. I completely agree. This film was absolutely brilliant in every way. This has been my favorite Jordan Peele project yet. Reading these comments I would swear none of these people actually watched the film?

      I didn’t even get to see the IMAX version but was still the best film of this year so far.

      I’m not someone to leave reviews, since I am a filmmaker myself, I believe it is not something you can critique to a certain extent. But considering the state of the current universal consciousness, I think all of these terribly flawed reviews means that Nope was a brilliant film. Firing on all cylinders, the huge amount of negative feedback can only be attributed to one thing. Dumb ass white people?

      Really, I don’t need to see another white lead ever again. All I need are more Jordan Peele films. MORE MORE MORE.

      If the world is still not ready for a powerful black cinematic voice, I don’t think it ever will be. And this has everything to do with race. I am an avid film viewer and there are more terrible films today than decent. I think people have actually forgotten what a good film entails.

      Jordan Peele is one of the few directors I will continue to support. For the third film of the his career, Nope is an absolute masterpiece that I feel blessed to have experienced in this lifetime.

    2. If you really watch 3-5 movies a week then you are surely digesting a steady stream of trash. Of course this movie would seem OK to you by comparison. This movie IS bad. No one will remember it 6 months from now.

    3. Oh my I must be a Moron because I thought it was pretentious crap as most of the people who paid to watch it in the cinema.

  6. I liked Us a lot.. but this was utter crap and the majority of the audience seemed to agree. Someone’s done a great job with marketing this! And the critics praising this should be ashamed for trying to put it in the same box as Peele’s other films. There’s nothing intelligent about this film.

    No story, terrible character choices, terrible story beats making for a very messy broken film. You can’t hide everything under a good score and hope to keep everyone awake. Snore fest. I’ll go back to Signs any day of the week for my alien fix.

  7. Pretentious too long B movie
    Horror, comedy, social commentary…
    Nothing materializes
    Even the great Michael Wincott can save this
    Maybe the director is having a laugh seeing all the experts seeing the masterpiece of the millennium

  8. I bought a ticket for this because it was hot out and I had nothing better to do. Same reason I watched it until the end. Why is it ok for these people to steal whatever they want? ( horse statue and wind socks)?. Guy punched what he thought was an alien, then said, oh, it was just one of the (white) kids we stole the horse statue from. Anti white racism undoes the plus of a black family business

    1. Paulette, Those children that were in those alien costumes were the offspring of a white women and an asian man (Ricky) who was also the creater and owner of the carnival Jupiter’s Claim. I feel like the whole “anti white” point is a reach. If you would look at the more broader vision in the beginning of the movie, Emerald explains to the filming crew that their great great GREAT grandfather was the first person to be shot in a motion picture….. and he was black. She then goes on to say that the person who shot the picture was a well known/famous white man. Yet when she asked the crew if they knew the name of the black man on the horse….. only one person answered, saying no. 😐 Now Emerald had no right stealing from Ricky(asian man), I think OJ’s emotions expressed his disappointment. But I do think you pointed out the stigma surrounding black owned/or black anything of that matter. Black people have been trying to make a name for ourselves or even just to get by and support our brothers and sisters. Minding OUR business. And for some reason, white people take offense to that, nitpicking and crying about what is there’s and what they own. Taking more and more, till minorities have nothing lol. Not even a name. The irony of it all. Like the idea that in order for black people to support and uprise other black people we have to hate white people is mind boggling to me. White people were never in the equation lmao.

      1. And honestly if we look even deeper into it, it’s no different to how the white guy took a picture of the black man on the horse, gave him no credit, and took all the fame for himself. Angel, O.J, and Emerald took from dealerships and other people for their own financial gain(that money shot). So it’s really up to them if they’re going to give credit to the people they did wrong by and stole from. Or do the exact same thing that the white man did to their x3 grandfather. Take it all and fuck everybody else.
        P.S- not all white people think the same lol

  9. I have to admit I hated this movie. It wasn’t very good but also the monkey thing is disrespectful to the people it happened to in real life. It’s something that didn’t need to be included or could have been done differently. The whole movie is bad so that little intro while it ties into things still isn’t right. Peele seems racist too. No black person is harmed but he mutilates asians (but it’s okay to steal akira and neon genesis references from them) and chews up white people. If I white person made this movie twitter and the self righteous pigs that inhabit it would have problems with that but since it’s a black man being racist, it’s fine for them.

    The plot was bad, some of the directing was off and so much more was wrong from poor dialogue to extremely bad acting by the leading lady of the film.

    Usually i let my feelings go about a film hours to a day later but now one week later, and it still upsets me.

  10. I have to be honest, a friend took me to see this last night and three things bothered me about this film:

    1). It was just plain tedious for most of the duration
    2). I have a hard time understanding the dialect of American black people. Subtitles would have helkped.
    3). That poor girl in the lead had terrible dialogue. Every other word out of her mouth was either “sh_t” or “f_ck”. Maybe that’s the new normal, but not for me and the kind of people I associate with.
    I’m about ready to give up on Mr. Peele.

    1. Of all the arguments against this movie… You couldn’t understand the characters dialogue????? You might be a little slow my dude…

    2. Omg, yes. I watched with subtitles amd i couldn’t understand the meaning of some sentences.
      Really bad movie with total lack of soul.

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