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A terrifying deep sea encounter has people thinking the alien from ‘NOPE’ is real

Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a giant floating jellyfish!

Image via Universal

Every time fiction tries to create terrifying monsters, the real world has to have the last word. There’s no place on Earth scarier than the deepest depths of the ocean, and a giant phantom jellyfish that’s been making the rounds online resembles the human-eating flying alien in Jordan Peele’s NOPE a little too much.

Back in November 2021, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute researchers captured a rare species of jellyfish commonly known as the giant phantom jelly 3200 feet beneath the surface using a remotely operated vehicle. Its arms can grow more than 10 meters wide.

The species’ name alone is enough to inspire any nightmarish horror movie and intentionally or not, Peele came close with Jean Jacket, the sinister antagonist of his 2022 movie NOPE.

Jean Jacket disguises itself as a flying saucer for most of the movie while hiding behind a fake cloud, but as Daniel Kaluuya’s OJ and Keke Palmer’s Emerald start teasing it in order to capture it on film, the giant alien reveals its true form as a tremendous flying jellyfish, that looks a lot like the giant phantom.

This comparison isn’t at all far fetched. According to IBC365, Peele sought the help of a CalTech engineering professor to help develop the design for Jean Jacket, as well as its movements and behaviors. Marine biology, particularly that of jellyfish, was a major inspiration in the process.

Jean Jacket’s features also derive from ion propulsion systems, and origami for its shape-shifting abilities. The 90s anime Neon Genesis Evangelion is also cited by Peele as a reference for its minimalism and “biomechanical design flair.” If there is anything NOPE has taught us, it’s not to exploit animal species for spectacle, so maybe it’s best we leave the deep sea and its giant phantom jellies well alone.

For a true case of art imitating life, NOPE is now available to rent on VOD. It’s expected to stream on Peacock later this year.

Francisca Tinoco
About the author

Francisca Tinoco

Francisca is a pop culture enthusiast and film expert. Her Bachelor's Degree in Communication Sciences from Nova University in Portugal and Master's Degree in Film Studies from Oxford Brookes University in the UK have allowed her to combine her love for writing with her love for the movies. She's a freelance writer and content creator, working in both the English and Portuguese languages for various platforms, including WGTC.