Honestly, I don't have much to say because there wasn't enough context in the film to have an opinion. Let's begin with my initial gut reaction: With all I have on my plate, I could've been doing something else with my 2hr 15min. But let's try to break this down anyway.
There is a thin line between confusion and mystery. NOPE doesn't graze the line. It's over it. Way over it. Out in the land of illogic.
Why? The story beats are there. There is a clear inciting Incident and goal with life or death stakes. The characters are as dimension as they can be in a horror/sci-fi film and the actors are giving us everything they've got. So why is NOPE so disconnected and anticlimactic?
Rules + Backstory. The rules are unclear and contradictory. Rules: - Can you look at the thing or nah? Because if you follow many of the actors line of sight throughout the film, they're looking at it yet not dying until the script deems it their time. - Why is the beast only interested in this town if it's so hungry? - Are vehicle batteries affected by the beast or nah? Sometimes they work. Sometimes they don't. - What caused the beast to change from a mushroom to a jellyfish? What did our characters do to cause this? Or did we just want it to look pretty for the picture? - Why did OJ need to sacrifice himself? Em was attacked immediately after. Sooooo... how did he help? And if he cared so much about the horses, why pull Lucky into this?
Backstory: We spent a lot of time with Gordy. It was an interesting moment in Jupe's life. It never connects to the present storyline. So, it feels like we're watching two movies in one (and secretly craving more of Gordy than the beast) that never cross paths to bring a deeper meaning to the premise. It's a set up with no pay off. 🤷🏽♀️ Are we interested in Jupe enough to care about this moment in his life? Because even if Gordy had never gone ballistic and Jupe and his cast went on to have marvelous careers, therefore Jupe never set up shop in the desert to tease the beast, it would still be there. It would still be hungry. There'd still be a movie.