3 Symbols in NOPE and What They Mean

The upright shoe.

When child star Jupe was on set for the sitcom Gordy’s Home, the titular chimp went berserk when a balloon pops causing havoc on set, killing and mauling the actors and staff from the show. During Gordy’s violent moment, Jupe and the camera focus on a white shoe that belonged to Jupe’s TV sister, standing upright with a tiny spot of blood. Later in life, we notice that he keeps this shoe in a memorabilia room. Some have mentioned that the upright shoe could be a manifestation of a bad miracle. However, I think the upright shoe is a symbol for the saying, “Waiting for the other shoe to drop,” and in a way, Jupe has lived his whole life waiting for the other shoe to drop, and when it does drop, this time he isn’t so lucky as he was in ’98.

Animal Abuse in the Film Industry.

The theme of animal abuse in Nope was extraordinarily evident from the very beginning when the movie starts with sound footage of a chimp, Gordy becoming violent during a filmed sitcom episode. Soon after, we notice the film industry being just as careless with the horse Lucky, on the set of a commercial, despite OJ basically begging the white cast and crew to be mindful of the animal and not to do anything that may startle it. But they didn’t listen to him, thus resulting in Lucky kicking out – and the director firing both the horse and his handler OJ. The film in a way wanted to show what happens when humans try to tame animals that aren’t meant to be tamed, and that in the end, their true nature will come out and the humans will suffer for their arrogance.

The Meaning behind FE1111.

Angel’s truck has a sticker with FE (standing for Fry’s Electronics) while 1111 is a reference to Jeremiah 11:11 famously referenced in Jordan Peele’s sophomore film US. The biblical reference is, “Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘I will bring on them a disaster they cannot escape. Although they cry out to me, I will not listen to them.’” Meaning that God has no intention of saving man for something they brought upon themselves (usually caused by the human obsession with greed and power).

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5 Horror Movies I’m Looking Forward to in 2022

ORPHAN: FIRST KILL

I really enjoyed the first film in this franchise and am curious about the interesting plot in the sequel:

Leena, a murderous sociopath who looks like a child due to a medical condition, escapes from an Estonian psychiatric facility. Leena impersonates the missing daughter of a wealthy family but becomes pitted against a determined mother.

DARK HARVEST

A legendary monster called October Boy terrorizes residents in a small Midwestern town when he rises from the cornfields every Halloween with his butcher knife and makes his way toward those who are brave enough to confront him.

NOPE

Not much is known about this film plot-wise, but it’s Jordan Peele and there’s a mushroom cloud in the sky, so I don’t know if it’ll be a horror movie inspired by atomic bombs?

DON’T WORRY DARLING

A 1950’s housewife living with her husband in a utopian experimental community begins to worry that his glamorous company may be hiding disturbing secrets.

HATCHING

A young gymnast who tries desperately to please her demanding mother discovers a strange egg. She hides it and keeps it warm, but when it hatches, what emerges shocks them all.

WHAT ARE SOME HORROR FILMS YOU’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS YEAR? LET ME KNOW!

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Film Review: US

US1

After seeing the trailer for Jordan Peele’s new film, I was left with this strange sense of unease. Something was off. I know, it’s a horror movie. It’s supposed to set an atmosphere of mental discomfort. But this was a subtle unease, like walking into your house and knowing something is amiss but you can’t put your finger on it. Then I saw the movie and realized the skewed detail I’d gotten hung up on was during the car scene where the Wilson family is listening to Luniz’s “I Got 5 On It.” The mother, Adelaide, tells her son to “get into rhythm,” and then proceeds to snap her fingers…off beat.

Huh?

At first, I thought it was just me but after reading up on it online, I realized it was actually a thing; a harbinger of truth pointing to Adelaide’s disturbing past. And that’s the beauty of “Us”. It’s going to toy with you, give you a few fake-outs and distractive ploys. Then it’s going to sock you in the gut with an intelligent sucker punch but for hours and days and weeks afterward, you’ll realize you actually got hit in the brainpan.

First, a brief synopsis: Adelaide Wilson takes a beach vacation to Santa Cruz with her husband, Gabe, and their two children. Haunted by a childhood trauma that occurred in a mirrored funhouse on the carnival pier, Adelaide begins to take notice of strange coincidences. She sees an odd vagrant with the sign, “Jeremiah 11:11”. Clocks read 11:11. A rogue Frisbee lands beside her, perfectly aligned with a polka dot on the towel pattern.

That night, four trespassers show up on their driveway. After a tense invasion of the Wilson’s beach house, Adelaide and her family come face to face with their doppelgangers, each a dark, deranged version of themselves dressed in matching red jumpsuits. Adelaide’s double, Red, reveals they were the subjects of an inhumane and failed experiment of clones forced to play out every action of their above-ground counterparts. Armed with a dagger-sharp pair of golden scissors, she aims to free herself and her demented family as second-class shadow-people by killing the Wilsons and taking their place above ground. Thus, the “untethering” begins. Snip, snip.

As with his debut film “Get Out”, Peele is wedging open the door on a new subgenre: societal horror. The fear surrounding social issues that plague the public today is over-ripe for exactly this kind of creative commentary. These are the subjects that privileged society would like to sweep under the rug: topics including mental illness, racism, unconscious biases, and discrimination. These are not well understood and what’s worse, they are not well-accepted. 

US2

People lean on belief systems to help them make choices. These are personal life lessons, religious teachings, parental guidance, peer pressures to assimilate. All these experiences act as a moral barometer. Now show those belief systems from an opposite perspective and those same people are left feeling totally confused, attacked, angry, defensive, helpless and desperate. They target the catalyst that brought the issue forward and not the issue itself. And usually, this translates into immense pressure being put upon the victims to become “normal” in order to be accepted into society again. It’s now their responsibility to stifle their hurt so the rest of the world feels comfortable. Translation: fix yourself. And if you can’t fix yourself, please have the courtesy not to talk about it. 

Herein lies another hidden beauty about “Us”. It is the catalyst. It shows the basic human fear of accepting our own duality. It presents a stark and uncomfortable contrast of black and white, right and wrong, good and evil…our shadow selves versus the masks we show to the world. And how we react when there is a critical imbalance of this light and dark power: rejection, jealousy, suspicion, paranoia, anger, violence. These knee-jerk emotions drive the need to delineate the status of “us” versus “them”.

Peele records these primal fears places them in the hearts of seemingly normal characters and plays it back in a distorted, reflective environment. Indeed, mirrors and reflections play a key visual element. There’s the presence of a “twin concept”, especially in the number eleven as it pops up on television, the time on clocks, in Bible verse, sports scores, even in abstract shadows. While this doubling can be consumed quite literally, it is best appreciated after you’ve seen the movie and had time to reflect on the multi-faceted meanings. And I’m not just trying to be punny here. These coincidences lead the characters to discover how their actions have helped or harmed others despite their intent, even how their actions have contributed to their own entrapment.

In addition to the psychology of duality, there is the theme of the American dream. The “haves” and “have nots”. Class structures and, in the constant strive to keep up with the Jones’, society’s inability to appreciate what they do have in their lives. There is a moral price for naivety and social complacency and this transaction plays out between the Wilson family and their tethered family of clones (but with more melodrama and excessive blood spray, of course).

Refreshingly, a talented, diverse cast takes the main stage. I am not a POC but I can attest that the amount of stories I’ve watched about white people has fatigued my appreciation for an intriguing plot. Presented here is a unique, well-told story about characters of color even though the story isn’t specifically about race. “Us” allows a brilliant opportunity for discussion of Hollywood’s lack of diversity without pandering to the audience. Lupita Nyong’o’s performance is spell-binding, especially in her disturbing portrayal of Red. She files her voice to a raspy, jagged husk and moves like a caged but confident animal who has conquered the laboratory labyrinth. Winston Duke deserves praise as well for bringing humanity and humor to the father figure trying to protect his family.

As a writer, my brain is always in “plot & character” mode. I tend to be severely critical of books and movies that lack logic or at least a moderate attempt at believability. Plot holes, if small enough, are forgivable. Give me a good story and I’ll give appropriate credit for the effort.

But don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.

A good story doesn’t have to be airtight. In fact, if a movie is too clean this can be a bit condescending to the audience, as if the writer has said, “Here, I’ve done all the thinking for you in case you couldn’t figure it out.” Nor does a good story leave glaringly large voids that prevent the story from making reasonable sense. A smart writer knows how to leave just enough mystery without compromising a satisfying ending.

scissors

So with that said, are there plot holes in “Us”? Yes. Don’t worry, I’ll keep this post-spoiler-free for those who have not seen the movie yet but just know that when the credits roll, you will have questions. Normally plot holes signal sloppy plotting and rushed production but in this instance, it is apparent that Peele has too much respect for the craft and his audience to have done this inadvertently. Go online to any of the numerous “Us” discussion boards or YouTube videos and you’ll find that deconstructing all the Easter eggs in this movie is half the fun. Personally, I feel the gaps are present on purpose. Maybe these plot holes give room for interpretation of the figurative gaps in society. Gaps in opportunity for individuals of lesser means. Gaps in understanding on common social issues. Gaps in memory due to trauma. The important takeaway is the ending gives closure while opening a Pandora’s box to a harsh new reality.

There’s plenty of action and gore to satisfy any terror junkie but “Us” goes beyond the blood spatter and gets cerebral. It touches on something more subtle in the human psyche. Darkness is not always evil. We must consider all the catalysts that trigger our fear and ask the simple question, “Why?” Does this emotion really stem from something out in the world or is it inside? And if it is inside, are we brave enough to face it? Ignorance can trap us in our own mirror house of horror for as long as we choose. We can close our eyes if we’re scared. But our reflections are still there. The shadow selves will wait until we’re ready to see what they have to teach us. And when that day comes, who will do the untethering? Snip, snip.

By: Erica Ruhe

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5 Horror Movies I’m Looking Forward to in 2019

IT

It: Chapter 2 – 27 years later, the Loser’s Club have grown up and moved away, until a devastating phone call brings them back. The biggest question that I have for the sequel is, I hope they give the movie a better ending than the novel actually did.

church

Pet Sematary – Another Stephen King novel adaptation, I truly loved the original and was iffy about them doing a remake, however, after viewing the trailer, I’m quite excited now. Louis Creed, his wife Rachel and their two children Gage and Ellie move to a rural home where they are welcomed and enlightened about the eerie ‘Pet Sematary’ located near their home. After the tragedy of their cat, Church, being killed by a truck, Louis resorts to burying it in the mysterious pet cemetery, which is definitely not as it seems, as it proves to the Creeds that sometimes, dead if better. I just need three things for this remake to work for me, Gage needs to be incredibly adorable as the original, Zelda has to be crazily terrifying as the original, and Stephen King needs to make an appearance in the film as he did in the original.

llorona

The Curse of La Llorona – Ignoring the eerie warning of a troubled mother suspected of child endangerment, a social worker and her own small kids soon drawn into the frightening supernatural realm. Their only hope to survive La Llorona’s deadly wrath may be a disillusioned priest and the mysticism he practices to keep evil at bay, on the fringes where fear and faith collide. I’ve been looking forward to seeing this because the original legend of La Llorona is quite creepy and I’m curious to see how the director will pull this off.

turning

The Turning – A young governess is hired by a man who has become responsible for his young nephew and niece after the deaths of their parents. This is a modern take on Henry James’ creepy novella “The Turn of the Screw.” This movie stars It’s and Stranger Things young talent, Finn Wolfhard and is Floria Sigismondi’s second feature film (her first being The Runaways). If you think that name sounds familiar, it’s because in the early 90’s Floria directed the majority of Marilyn Manson’s music videos, so if her gothic, creepy videos were any indication of her style, I’m certain that this movie will be just as chilling and haunting.

us

US – This is Jordan Peele’s second horror movie, and although the plot to this movie is yet unknown, simply being described as a “social horror-thriller,” on IMDb, I’m intrigued since I really enjoyed Peele’s Get Out. Besides, with Elisabeth Moss and Lupita Nyong’o in the cast, I know that the movie promises some top-notch performances.

What movies are you looking forward to seeing in 2019?

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