First thing’s first, major Nope spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned.
Jordan Peele’s latest sci-fi horror film Nope follows a brother-sister duo (Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer) who attempt to photograph the alien presence terrorizing their horse ranch. If they succeed in getting what they refer to as the “Oprah shot,” they could possibly save the family ranch from financial ruin.
Jordan Peele loves animals. Remember the deer in Get Out? The bunnies in Us? Nope features horses and a chimpanzee. But unlike his first two films, the animals in Nope play a bigger role to this story.
The film’s opening scene introduces the audience to a chimp sitting next to what seemed to be a dead body.
During the filming of a birthday-themed episode, Gordy quite literally goes apeshit at the sound of balloons popping, sending him into a violent fit attacking the cast — except for young Ricky, who hides under the table during the massacre.
Gordy eventually sees Ricky hiding and turns to him in friendship, extending his fist to bump Ricky’s they way their characters do on the show — but he gets shot down before making contact.
So when an alien shows up in his neighborhood, Jupiter thinks this is a chance to grow his entertainment career as long as he could get the creature to trust him like Gordy did.
Through his experience with Gordy, Jupiter didn’t learn an important lesson that greed and a lack of respect for non-human life blinded him from taking in. An animal is not an actor, any more than an alien is a sideshow attraction.
No creatures should be boxed in and made into a spectacle, because when they are — well, shit happens.
So, yeah, the film is a sci-fi horror tale, but it’s also a look into species’ primal attempts of survival.
All in all, we needed Jupe’s backstory in order to comprehend why anyone would try to tame an alien by feeding it horses.
Also might be worth noting the connection with balloons and animals here.