BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW (2012)
D. Panos Cosmatos
This experimental, sci-fi, horror is a visual triumph but on a plot level it is completely confounding. Which I think is all part of the design of the piece. But that makes it damn hard to get through at times.
The film opens with a commercial for the ABORIA INSTITUTE for happiness and wellness. The commercial has Dr. Barry Nyle (Michael Rogers) talking directly to the camera about the new and exciting techniques the place has to offer. It sounds like a new age getaway camp for those needing to run from theirs problems. But when we enter the actual institute it is something else entirely. A freakishly red lit nightmare hospital that seems to only have one patient, the teenaged Elena (Eva Allen). Dr. Nyle is clearly obsessed with Elena and her so called "recovery" constantly lording over her and tormenting her psyche with questions about her dead mother. Dr. Nyles is unhappy at home, distanced from his wife Rosemary, so the work seems to be all he has.
As the movie goes on we discover the institute has a lot more going on, such as what appears to be android sentinels guarding secret rooms, and experimentation that reveals that Elena is a telepath, able to explode people when pushed. The movie takes a hard left turn (from already being way left of center) when we see a flashback of the doctor and the creator of the institute Dr. Aboria in some sort of personal destruction/recreation ritual. This is when we realize Dr. Nyles is all together very different from what we thought. Much more dangerous and deadly and probably not even human.
The movie is all about style with locations bathed in red light, faced bathed in blue or yellow. Everyone moves at half speed, sometimes even slower and the music is pulsing and repetitive like old techno or house music. It all adds up to a beautiful to look at film that works like a trance in action. I bet seeing this on the big screen was quite an experience. But watching it on TV only served to make me nod out a few times over.
BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW is worth watching due to the sheer uniqueness of it, but it isn't going to convince you to visit it a second time, even if it probably takes the second viewing to comprehend all of it.
Review © Andrew Copp