Monday, May 6, 2013

Beyond The Black Rainbow (2010)

If you mixed Stanly Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey with THX-1138 and Argento's Suspiria, threw in some 80's droning synth music and took some LSD, you'd wind up with this little known gem called Beyond The Black Rainbow.

This feature film debut from Canadian filmmaker Panos Cosmatos is set in a very oppressive but gloriously strange 1983. Dr. Barry Nyle is the head doctor of the Arboria Institute, a scientific clinic devoted to helping people find eternal happiness through "benign pharmacology, sensory therapy and energy sculpting". What we really see is one "patient" (she's more of a prisoner) in the entire facility; a young girl named Elena who posesses some type of psychic power and never talks. She tries to escape from Arboria but Dr. Barry will be having none of that.

There's a little more to the story which gets fleshed out during certain sequences. The images in this movie are unlike almost anything I've ever seen. Some directors and cinematographers know how to make striking images and beautiful moments, but Beyond.. takes it to a whole other level. Watching the movie is like watching pictures unfold in a lava lamp.... I don't know how else to describe it. The music is very 80s synth but it fits very well with the oppressive and weird tone of everything. The guy who plays Dr. Barry is perfectly creepy and strange.

This movie is a little under 2 hours but it proceeds at a snail's pace (kind of like a lava lamp). My only complaint is that the end kind of comes out of nowhere and takes this weird psychodelic film and turns it into a pseudo-slasher flick in 20 minutes. If you like weird, out there, unconventional  movies that are more an experience than a straight story (and have no problem with super slow-burners) then this is for you.

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