What Nope’s Sound Design Can Teach Us About Terror vs. Horror

/Please/ tell me that was just the wind.
Nope Sound Design

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that looks at the sound design of Jordan Peele’s 2022 sci-fi movie Nope.

Sound design in horror films is as, if not more important, than the visuals. How many times have you shielded your eyes only to realize that visual was one thing, but the popping cartilage and splitting skin is much, much worse?

Jordan Peele’s latest feature, Nope, is an excellent example of the power of sonic horror. More specifically, the difficult-to-describe but definitively felt difference between horror and terror. And as Matthew Morgan writes in this extremely good read from earlier this year, ambiguity, imagination, and uncertainty are the fuel that feeds the fire of fear.

Nope‘s sound design team actively tries to make our imaginations run wild. We often hear things long before their context is made plain to us. We’re invited to hear genuinely frightening screams amidst shrieks of delight. We hear uncertain rumbling in the wind.

As a result, we’re left, much like Nope‘s protagonists, in a position where we’re sonically scanning our environment for threats. Unable to get a proper look at the source, we’re left to lean in, listen, and let our imagination fill in the blanks.

Be warned: visual and story spoilers are in the video essay below.

Watch “How Nope Tricks Your Ears”

Who made this?

This video essay on the sound design in Jodan Peele’s Nope is by Virginia-based filmmaker and video editor Thomas Flight. He runs a YouTube channel under the same name. You can follow Thomas Flight and check out his back catalog of video essays on YouTube here. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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Meg Shields: Based in the Pacific North West, Meg enjoys long scrambles on cliff faces and cozying up with a good piece of 1960s eurotrash. As a senior contributor at FSR, Meg's objective is to spread the good word about the best of sleaze, genre, and practical effects.