Welcome to the new age of enlightenment.
Its 1983. You are about to hypnotized by a film of the likes you have never seen before. A dystopian vision of a cutting edge sci-fi/substance horror dream so cinematically beautiful and vivid that it feels like you’ve traveled back in time to the early ’80s to witness the birth of a new film by a legendary director who had otherwise been long gone – Stanley Kubrick. Yes, its true. If you’ve been mesmerized and cerebrally enticed by the trailer, or have simply sniffed it out via primordial instinct and interest – believe in yourself. You’re onto something out of this world.
Soaked in dualities and a retro representation that spans from its analog synthesized score by Sinoia Caves to its Odysseyian sets, director Panos Cosmatos tells an abstract tale that offers very few direct explanations, allowing your own mind to drift off into its drug induced plot of etherealness – to unravel personally, through blinding white antiseptic lights and self-developed, deep thought. Its a doctoral nightmare from a timeless world, like A CLOCKWORK ORANGE on morphine – shot almost completely in slow motion from start to finish and paced like no other movie I can recall – relying on sound and vision rather than speech (Cosmatos claims an 11 page script for this near two hour film), and once you experience it, it will linger in the mists of your memory forever whether you like it or not.
In the pharmaceutically spa-like, experimental Arboria labs, a girl is all but being held prisoner by a strange scientist who keeps her heavily sedated in a prison like state. There is an odd relationship here between Dr. Nyle (played award worthy by Michael Rogers) and this patient named Elena (Eva Allan, who personified a delicate but powerful character of emotion without barely speaking). Nyle’s interest borderlines love, for reasons you should discover on your own, as he manipulates control over her mind and domain via a large crystal, new age psychotica style. Arboria was founded many years earlier than this by Dr. Mercurio Arboria himself (Scott Hylands), who embarked on a scientific journey to master and open the mind via chemical enhancement, with the purpose of finding the ultimate inner peace.
Back in the day, Dr. Nyle traveled this journey himself as a patient, and during an incredibly deep narcotic-like immersion, he mated with a woman in what is the most tripped out “love” scene I’ve ever witnessed in my lifetime, where his soul seems to merge with another, and as we are late somewhat explained – where he crossed beyond the black rainbow and looked the eyes of God himself. It is a bad LSD moment of a scene complete with tar covered bodies, crawling out of dimensional holes, vomiting and kissing – skulls dripping and melting upward like THE DEVIL’S RAIN against gravity. He comes back having seen too much, not quite the same man he was before, to say the least. The world to which he returns with completely dilated black eyes, becomes absurdly small and meaningless to him, and it unravels from there.
WARNING: this film again, is not for everyone. This is more for the bed ridden science fiction enthusiast dosing pain meds into their arteries through an IV. It does step into the horror genre at points – exploding heads, escaping bloody alien-like abominations – including a vicious knife wound worthy of entering your favorite gore moments of the year – but as I looked around the crowd of people watching at its Tribeca Film Festival world premiere, a majority of the audience was as confused as they were entranced, and the more sober and “ready for action” they were, the more disappointed, uncomfortable, and out of their element they became. Its for the psychedelica hungry mind – worthy of being interpreted as everything from horror, to sci-fi, to a love story. BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW is an incredibly unique masterpiece of “art” by its entire cast and crew, from its director of photography Norm Li, its oddly augmented sound designer Eric Paul, to the strange mind of Panos Cosmatos, who brought this whole new world before our mega-dilated eyes.
Final analysis: BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW is a pure 100% pharmaceutical grade trip. Its not for everyone and will either be loved, or hated (no in between). If you haven’t picked up on what I’m putting down, this movie joins that small sub-niche of films like PINK FLOYD’S THE WALL, or A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, where the most benefited viewer is the one that is on drugs. You almost need to be sedated to sit through it – otherwise you may sit up out of a hypnotized state and shake your head wondering what the hell it is you’re watching. The psychedelic version of a John Carpenter soundtrack, the retina staining color, the augmented breathing, sticky lips, and heartbeats, the long durations between spoken word, the vibrational psyoincs and overlayed swarming white noise grain that can be ever so slightly noticed (like when you’re on ecstasy or acid and the entire world seems to be outlined in electricity, as if you can see the living cells on the surface of your eyes) – that’s what its like to be on heavy, mind altering substances. I don’t care who says what (nor am I advising anyone to do so), but I’m telling you now, that’s the crowd it was made for.