Sunday, October 07, 2012

Horror Thoughts ‘12—Beyond the Black Rainbow (2012) ***½

R, 110 min.
Director/Writer: Panos Cosmatos
Starring: Michael Rogers, Eva Allan, Scott Hylands, Marilyn Norry, Rondel Reynoldson

A word of warning before anyone takes me up on this recommendation: Do not watch this movie if you’ve taken the bad acid!

Panos Cosmatos’s “Beyond the Black Rainbow” is probably best described as a psychedelic acid trip, but not the kind you want to take. It is a retro sci-fi thriller made as if it was still 1984 and the threat of Big Brother was still a concern of becoming a reality.

Director Quentin Tarantino gets a lot of credit for his attempts to recreate the look and feel of bygone cinematic eras on screen, but he’s got nothing on Cosmatos’s ability to recreate the look and feel of an out of left field 80s science fiction horror flick. He doesn’t just have the look and the feel right, but even the graininess of the image, the lighting, the incorrect vision of a future world. I’ve never seen a cinematic production era style so accurately reproduced. I’d swear this movie was filmed in 1983 if I didn’t know differently.

The story is oblique. I’m not even sure I understand what its about or exactly what happens, but the cinematic style and electronic score by Sinoia Caves are so good, I don’t really care. I suppose it’s kind of a marriage between “2001: A Space Odyssey” and Stephen King’s “Firestarter”. There are no details to the story that really match those, but… yeah, those two are kind of right for what we witness here. It’s also not entirely unlike an Italian horror movie from a director like Dario Argento, but without as much blatant sexuality and with no satanic themes.

There’s very little dialogue but a good deal of striking visual imagery. There is a doctor, it would seem, and a patient. The patient never speaks. She seems to have some sort of telekinesis. She does speak occasionally through thoughts, but still very little. The doctor seems to be examining her, or she might just be his prisoner.

Describing what happens really does no service to the film. It’s much more about its style than about its plot. Perhaps there are hidden meanings behind what it presents to the audience, but discovering them would take close study of the film through multiple screenings, a prospect I wouldn’t be entirely opposed to. The film is almost like a meditation. It’s slow moving, but immensely involving. I don’t know if that’s because of its strange nature, or if it has something to do with the appeal of its early 80s style. It will certainly turn many viewers off. I’m ready to see it again, however.

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