By Guillermo Azabal
Los Angeles, Jul 21 (EFE).- The look in the eyes of actor Daniel Kaluuya in the promotional image for the hit 2017 film “Get Out” harbored a secret message: the picture awaiting viewers would reinvent the horror genre by infusing it with incisive commentary on the scourge of racism.
Five years after director Jordan Peele’s debut work, the filmmaker’s latest and most ambitious project to date, “Nope,” is set to hit theaters Friday in the United States and further push the boundaries of an oft-maligned sub-branch of cinema.
“What’s a bad miracle?” is the simple question contained in the trailer for the new film, in which Peele transports the audience to an arid California wasteland where siblings OJ and Emerald Haywood (Kaluuya and Keke Palmer) are confronted with an extraterrestrial threat.
“Nope” offers plenty of chilling moments over the course of two hours and 10 minutes, but Peele skillfully speeds up and slows down the action, blends elements of the horror, thriller and science-fiction genres and tosses in splashes of absurdist humor to provide viewers with an utterly unique cinematic experience.
“I always look for something that doesn’t exist, for a film that I wish I could see for the first time. And in this case, it was a truly horrifying UFO film in which we were really able to be immersed into the situation, like some of my favorite films,” Peele said in an interview with Efe at a screening of “Nope” for members of the media.
“So that was the nugget, and I was like you know, I’ve got to make this. In fact, I have a responsibility to movies to make this movie.”
Dubbed the first movie about UFOs in the smartphone era, the film serves as a vehicle for the exploration of themes such as modern-day hyper-connectivity, people’s obsession with capturing images on their cellphones and their fascination with alien life.
Peele also wrote the screenplay for his latest work, which bears the influence of classic films about extraterrestrials across different decades: Stephen Spielberg’s 1977 film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” M. Night Shyamalan’s 2002 picture “Signs” and Denis Villeneuve’s 2016 movie “Arrival.”
Expectations are sky-high for the film, produced by Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions and distributed by Universal Pictures, after the jaw-dropping success of “Get Out,” which was made on a shoestring production budget of less than $5 million and grossed a whopping $255 million worldwide.
“I think of the expectations as gifts. It’s the only way you can. Otherwise, you’re going to be smothered and unwound by over-thought,” Peele said. “But for me taking control of what I think the expectations are gives me a sense of power when I’m crafting a story, because the more I know about what an audience is thinking and what they’re expecting the more ability I have to try to deliver on that or flip it on its head.”
The American actor, filmmaker and comedian is part of a new wave of directors, also including Ari Aster (“Hereditary” and “Midsommar”), that are taking the horror genre into new and intriguing directions.
Even so, Peele refuses to accept the “best horror director” label, telling Efe that would constitute a “lack of respect” for John Carpenter (“Halloween,” “Escape from New York”). EFE