Jordan Peele‘s Nope opens seven days hence (7.22), and there’s no buzz at all. Donut. The first critics screenings begin next week. This doesn’t necessarily “mean” anything as distribs often screen horror films at the last minute.

Peele has made three features (Get Out, Us, Nope), has had two massive hits and become a brand, and many (including the absolutely relentless Bob Strauss) still swear by Get Out.

“It’s not Rosemary’s Baby but what is?,” a friend says. “But it’s infinitely better than The Stepford Wives.”

Peele, I replied, is a commercial filmmaker working in the thriller-horror-spooker field. He is what he is, but he’s not a 21st Century Rod Serling or Roald Dahl or Ira Levin.

Friendo: “The jury’s out, I think, on where he’s going.”

HE: “Strictly a genre tickler.

Friendo: “I think he’s very gifted. If he’s smart, he’ll make Nope his last horror film for a while.”

HE: “Due respect but I don’t think he knows how to do anything more than try to be the black Rod Serling. Except he never wrote anything like Patterns or Requiem for a Heavyweight.”

Friendo: “You think Get Out is decent but overrated, overly praised because of the woke factor, etc. I think it’s singular and gripping. Us didn’t quite work, but I think Get Out makes its mark.”

HE: “You know that story about Jordan having shot Get Out as a horror film AND as a comedy, and that he wasn’t sure which way to go but he finally figured it out in editing…right? This helps explain why Lil Rel Howery is clearly a character with comic attitude — the guy delivering comic relief.

Friendo: “That’s interesting. That would make it a rival to Ralph Rosenblum’s great story of how Annie Hall found its narrative form, its vibe, and its very identity as a romantic comedy through his editing of it. Of course, the thing about horror and comedy is that they’ve always gone together. The three greatest horror movies of the last 65 years — Psycho, Rosemary’s Baby and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre — are all, on some level, horror comedies.”

HE: “That’s a very sophisticated (as in highly perverse) viewpoint, calling Psycho and Rosemary’s Baby comedies. I’ll allow that if you stretch the idea of ‘comedy’ to its breaking point, you could say that these two films are flavored with exceedingly dry comedy here and there. They’re basically low-key, naturalistic horror films flecked with dry humor here and there, but they hardly qualify as comedies.

Ruth Gordon delivers a kind of mannered, eccentric kind of ‘comedy’ in the Polanski film (my favorite moment is after Mia Farrow drops the carving knife on the Castevet’s apartment floor, and Gordon pulls it out and checks to see if the varnish has been chipped). There are only two jokes in Psycho — one, when mother is taunting Norman about his plan to put her in the fruit cellar and she says ‘you think I’m fruity, hah?’, and two, when Sheriff Chambers’ wife whispers that Norman’s mother was found with her lover ‘in bed’, and that she picked out the dress that she was buried in — ‘periwinkle blue.'”

Friendo: “I get what you’re saying, but Psycho is, among other things, a wickedly droll and funny movie, powered, as you say, by a dry wit. It may sound simplistic to call it a ‘comedy,’ but horror comedy is its own genre. My point is how much these two flavors go together, and have for decades. Those flavors work together differently in Get Out — that’s why the movie is its own thing.”

HE: I don’t blame Peele for being an ardent careerist. And I certainly respect your viewpoint, and I’m certainly not saying that you’re wrong. But somehow or some way that good-enough-but-less-than-phenomenal film has convinced you that he was, in fact, the black Rod Serling (which he definitely isn’t and never will be) or the Paddy Chayefsky of gimmick horror or something in that realm. He’s a nice guy and out for the same things we all want (or think that we need) and more power to him, etc. But my gut says he’s a one-trick pony, and the thing that told me he doesn’t have that much up his sleeve was Us, the red-jumpsuit film that was partly shot in Santa Cruz.

Friendo: I’ve never thought of Peele as ‘the black Rod Serling.’ I know he did that revamp of the Twilight Zone series (which I never saw), and there have been dozens of horror thrillers that have what we loosely call ‘a Twilight Zone vibe,’ but Get Out, to me, stands on its own. Peele is very gifted, and it’s very early in his career. Let’s give him a chance.”