Roughly a week and a half after Halloween, Horror Bingo 2022 has finally reached its conclusion, with our last movie being Jordan Peele’s Nope. Which means—
—I won! I mean, Marisa won, really, but in the battle of the St. George Sisters, I PREVAILED. Horror Bingo 2022 Queen for me! I need to get myself a sash and a bottle of champagne immediately. Well. Okay, I’m not that into champagne, but I’d totally take a sash and a bottle of Martinelli’s.
We’ll get to our brief Horror Bingo wrap-up in a little bit, but first let’s discuss our final movie.
Director: Jordan Peele
First Watch or Rewatch: First Watch
Streaming Service: Amazon Rental
Spoilers: Very much so, sorry
I’m afraid this won’t be a very satisfactory review because, TBH, I haven’t at all decided how I feel about Nope. I think it’s interesting. I think it’s delightfully weird. I also think it feels a bit, hm. Loose? All over the place? With time, I might feel differently. Maybe it’ll all come together for me, or maybe I’ll feel it just doesn’t hold up. Right now, though, I mostly feel huh. Some movies are like that for me, though, certainly movies that begin with sitcoms and murder chimps. (Full disclosure: I generally struggle to take homicidal apes of any kind seriously, like, not to spoil an almost 200-year-old short story, but I sorta wanted to scream into a pillow after reading “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.” This wasn’t really a problem I had with Nope, though. I just thought it was funny.)
The cast is fantastic, of course. I like Daniel Kaluuya and his stoic SoCal cowboy reserve—not to mention his American accent, which just remains tremendously impressive. Keke Palmer is extremely energetic and an awful lot of fun as Em. I always enjoy Steven Yeun, who has the unenviable task of acting without being upstaged by his wardrobe—a task in which he entirely succeeds. I was also delighted to see Keith David and Michael Wincott pop up, although Keith David sadly dies like four minutes into the movie. (Man, that’s gotta rank high on terrible movie deaths, right, like not just being killed by a nickel, but by an alien shit nickel?) At least Michael Wincott lives for quite a while before getting himself eaten—I have a bizarre amount of nostalgia for that man and his absurdly deep gravel voice. And I can’t forget Brandon Perea, who plays disgruntled electronics guy, Angel, and is absolutely the scene stealer of this movie. I adored Angel, and am extremely happy that he survives.
The story . . . well, like I said, the story is interesting. It took me a very long time to piece together not just what was happening, but what I thought Nope was about, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing—please don’t come at me with some death of intellectualism monologue, no one’s got energy for that right now—but things still feel, IDK, vague, blurry. I never quite had that lightbulb moment, that satisfaction you get when you finally place that one missing puzzle piece which makes the whole picture come together. Maybe it’s because I’m still missing stuff, or because it took me too long to realize certain things, like, it was a good minute before I understood that Jupe knew the alien was real, that he was purposefully trying to exploit it—and without ever bothering to come up with an actual strategy/back up plan other than blind faith and hubris. I guess Jupe thought he’d survive just because he’d survived before? In theory, I think that’s kinda neat, actually, but in execution, I wish we delved deeper. I mean, a murderous chimp and a carnivorous sky monster are different levels of fucked up. To see them as one and the same, like, that’s some fascinating, trauma-born, near delusional thinking on display, all of which is tremendously interesting, but feels rushed and out of balance to me. And that’s assuming I’m even interpreting Jupe’s psychology and motivations correctly, which is a big assumption.
I did really love the reveal that the alien spaceship is, in fact, the alien itself. Seeing the people inside the creature, realizing that we’ve been hearing the sounds of the victims screaming as they slowly get digested, like, YES. Also, the blood-covered house, man. That’s just fantastic. I enjoyed some of the music, too (I’ve been listening to “Exuma, The Obeah Man” a LOT in the last few days), and of course, I’m always about sibling stories. OJ and Em have wildly different energies, and it’s a lot of fun to see Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer play off one another. I also enjoyed watching both siblings get a turn at playing Big Damn Hero in the last act. (Kaluuya, in particular, gets some nice Hollywood cowboy moments, which is especially cool because OJ’s family has been providing horses for Hollywood for literal generations, and because the western, as a genre, is not exactly well known for having a lot of Black cowboys.) The callback to the well-camera, I thought, was also especially well done.
I just can’t quite decide what I think of the movie as a whole. Right now, it’s still very much disparate pieces for me. Bizarre, dark, funny, interesting pieces with some general themes about exploitation and greed, yes . . . but still, I’m not totally sure Nope is quite coming together for me just yet.
THE GREAT HORROR BINGO 2O22 WRAP UP
Of the films I’ve never seen before, One Cut of the Dead was far and away my absolute favorite. Other movies I especially liked were The Black Phone and The Call (so long as I ignore the last fifteen seconds of The Call).
As far as obvious least favorites go . . . you know, I’m not really sure that I had one. I liked some movies more than others, yeah, but I genuinely enjoyed watching all of them, and Vanilla was the lowest score I gave to any of the Horror Bingo films. Unlike previous years, I didn’t hate any of the movies we watched—although it’s probably worth pointing out that we rewatched more old favorites than we usually do.
Movies I’m Most Disappointed We Didn’t Get To: The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Tenebrae, and—of course—Pontypool and Lake Mungo. Jesus Christ. These two movies, I don’t understand what dark magic has been cast against them, but we’ve decided that it’s time to fight back. We’ve already chosen Lake Mungo as next year’s Free Space Movie, while we’ll just have to watch Pontypool on its own sometime this year. (If you were curious, this important decision was made by playing a high stakes game of roshambo, which I lost, as I inevitably do, like, 95% of the time.)
Movies I’m Most Likely to Add to Horror Bingo 2023, assuming I don’t watch them before: The Autopsy of Jane Doe, Knock at the Cabin, Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum, and maybe a rewatch of The Final Girls. (Last year’s nominees were As the Gods Will, The Call, Bit, and The Fly, so this has remained pretty accurate—all four made it into the Horror Bingo pool, and three of the four were watched and reviewed.)
That’s it for today. Until next Halloween season, my friends!