There’s a reason virtually nothing is opening in movie theaters this week — virtually nothing, that is, except Nope, the new sci-fi epic from writer, director, and producer Jordan Peele. Based on the success of Peele’s Oscar-winning horror debut Get Out and its follow-up Us, the filmmaker’s name alone has the power to strike fear into the hearts of studio heads and film distributors with a competing product to sell. And so a wide berth has been given to Peele’s latest, a stylishly creepy alien-invasion tale starring Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer.
Fittingly for a movie so big-footed it has scared away almost all comers, you’re going to want to see Nope on the largest screen possible and with the best and biggest sound system. Set on a remote ranch in the picturesque California desert town of Agua Dulce, the film centers on siblings OJ and Emerald Haywood (Kaluuya and Palmer), Hollywood horse trainers who experience an unearthly visitation. Nope has been hand-tooled for the kind of presentation you can only get in a real theater — preferably Imax — to take full advantage of the film’s striking production design and eerie sound mix, which ranges from a thunderous, cinderblock-shaking roar to the kind of hush that isn’t so much a stillness as a sonic vacuum; the kind of silence in which you hear nothing but your own heartbeat. Kudos to sound designer Johnnie Burn (a BAFTA nominee for The Favourite), who deserves to be first in line for next year’s Oscars.