Watching Beyond The Black Rainbow Tripping My Face Off: A Drug-Induced Review Of A Mindf*ck Of A Film
If you want to do drugs, that is up to you. Some of them can kill you, and some of them can make you go crazy, but some of them can be pretty awesome. If you are adult enough, and strong enough, you will know at which points to draw the lines, and which proverbial devils you shouldn’t risk dancing with. That being said, not all drugs are evil. If you take the right drug as an accentuate to the right scenario, the two things can work together in tandem and create an experience unlike anything you have ever felt or seen before. And that is what happened to me when I ate a mouthful of psychoactive mushrooms and sat myself down to watch Beyond The Black Rainbow. A movie, some say, made specifically for people who are tripping. So how was my experience tripping and watching Beyond the Black Rainbow? Read on and find out. There may be some spoilers ahead, but I wouldn’t worry about it, because this movie is so trippy and hard to follow at times, that, what I took away from it and what you take away from it may be two entirely different things. Plus, I watched it on mushrooms, so there’s that.
First off, for you to really understand what I was watching, you should peep this trailer right now. Prepare your brain from some real WTF moments.
The movie makes you feel like you are on drugs even when you are sober, so seeing it on drugs was like a punch to the cerebral cortex.
That trailer was all I knew about the movie, and I thought it best to keep it that way, so I could go at it blind. So I ate the mushrooms, and broke up a domestic disturbance (true fucking story), then walked home and sat myself down to watch this film. From the moment it began, the very first frame, I knew this movie was going to finger my brain until I was drooling.
First thing you notice (outside the INSANE number of Illuminati references and imagery that run rampant through the film, and which I won’t address because how the fuck do you address it?) is the intense contrast and primary colors of the film. The colors are very Kubrick-esque, with reds reflecting off whites, and everything have a surreal level of sheen to it. The visuals are so crisp and so compelling, you cannot help but wonder if this movie was made specifically for people under the influence of LSD or some kind of psychoactive drug, which has been the rumor among cult-film fans for a few years now. Every single visual in Beyond The Black Rainbow seemed to appeal to me that much more because of how hard I was tripping. Oh, and some of those visuals are straight-up nightmare fuel, but that comes with the territory for a movie like this. Hell, you watch a Disney movie tripping and there will be atleast one scene that scares you, trust me there.
There is also an element of controlled madness to the soundtrack, all done on synthesizer, which played the same few, booming notes (which sound very foreboding) over and over again. It works magically in unison with the film at delivering an experience that delivers on ALL the senses.
There is also a very “1980′s” aesthetic to the entire film that was so authentic, I had to check on multiple occasions to make sure this film wasn’t twenty years old, but that is not the case. It looks like 1983 in the film, because it takes place in 1983, yet, it looks nothing like the 1983 you remember. A futuristic version of the past, if I may be so bold. Beyond the Black Rainbow is from 2010, though, and I seemed to forget that over and over whole watching it.
Perhaps I should talk about the actual film now, huh? Well, first off, it looks like this:
It is like one of the members of Daft Punk got lost on his way to be in Tron 2.
The basic story of Beyond The Black Rainbow is deceptively simple one (just kidding). A creepy doctor guy who looks kinda like a young Carl Sagan (on purpose) runs this odd facility called
Black Mesa Arboria, where he is keeping a young girl named Elena captive so he can study her psychic energy, and make her into an illuminati and foster her psychic ability (for evil purposes that we are never really sure of) but Elena is stronger than those who hold her captive, and she attempts an escape away from Dr. Nyle and the Arboria facility. But, there are some weird ass things going on in that place, and it seems like everything will do all it can to keep her there, especially Dr Nyle, whose preoccupation with her definitely borders on uncomfortable. The film may be a nod to the MK ULTRA tests by our own Government, but can’t be sure either way. Hell, I was tripping out so hard to this I was making up ALL NEW theories.
Man, as much as I talk about this movie, there is still so much to say. Like the pyramid, and how, at one point, they dunk Dr Nyle in some black fluid and then let him eat a lady, who was actually Elena’s Mom. Wait, maybe we will skip most of this stuff. The pyramid, let’s go with the pyramid for now. And some of the other weird shit, too, just to put this all in some sort of context.
There is a throbbing pyramid that emits light and seemingly controls people. There are weird panels that where you can push blocks of ice into spaces to lock people into rooms. There are weird Tron people who walk around, but they are actually kids. And when they don’t walk around, they are held in containment cubes. And don’t even get me started on Doctor Barry Nyle (the Carl Sagan guy) because I am pretty sure he is a vampire, or some shit. Maybe an Illuminati? Or an Illuminati vampire. Or a Illumipire? No, seriously. Check him out in his “transformation” scene. Please not the INSANE amount of Illuminati imagery:
Now imagine watching that scene tripping on mushrooms. Face.Melted.Off.Twice.
The thing I kept saying out loud while I watched this was: This is like a Marilyn Manson video directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Carl Sagan as Nosferatu. I fully realize this film has gotten mostly ‘meh’ reviews, but I can’t help but feel the (dull, sober, republicans) who review movies are NOT the proper audience for a movie as multi-layered and visually stunning as Beyond The Black Rainbow. It is a world you have never seen before, never even seen anything even close to, and to see it properly, you need to look through different eyes. Eyes with pupils as wide as mine as I watched the flick.
The story is dark, with the early tones in the film making it feel more like science fiction, but the latter half of the film having a horror movie feel to it, albeit a very surrealist version of a horror movie.
Here, see for yourself:
Scenes like this had me watching in awe, not sure what the fuck I was looking at, but knowing I was utterly enthralled.
About halfway through the film, Elena attempts to escape the Arboria institute, fearing that whatever they have planned for her is only going to get worse and worse. So in a dreamy, drug-like state, she begins to try to find her way out of this odd, symmetric, primary-colored structure, which is filled with way more messed up shit than she could have prepared herself for. You need to understand, the visuals in this film, while you are tripping, fill you with kind of wonder you had when you would watch Disney movies as a kid. Your mouth just hangs open as the cryptic synthesizer fills chime in and give you chills, and all the visuals you see are unlike anything your eyes have seen before. Yes, there is a story here, being told very loosely, yet it is truly captivating. Make no mistake about it, though, you are here for the visuals, which grab you by the pupils and do not let you blink for the entirety of the film. The mushrooms might have had something to do with that, too, but even sober I would imagine this film being hard to look away from.
Even scenes where the effects don’t look perfect, it seems like their imperfection was intended.
The effect here, for example, in still-frame, may seem cheap and unrealistic, but it truly ISN’T, and that is the real beauty of this movie. From the first second, to the (very strange and almost detached) final ten minutes, you are pulled into this world that director Panos Cosmotos created here. You cannot deny the ambition for this as a first feature-length film, which it was for Panos. You are weaved into the fabric of this strange place for a short time, and much like Elena, you, yourself, almost feel like there is no escape. You feel trapped with her, yet you know she is strong, you have felt that the whole time, so even your hopelessness at this strange situation never overwhelms you.
And though the last ten minutes feel a bit strange and out-of-place with the rest of the movie (wait, that was IT??!!!), it took me a day to realize I actually loved the ending. I loved it because it is not expected, at all. In the final moments, we are not left with a nihilist vision, surprisingly (which is what I was bracing myself for the entire time), but rather, we are left with hope. And nothing is a nicer feeling when you are tripping than hope. A hope for a better day. A hope for a brighter world. A hope for these mushrooms to chill out a little so I can go to bed.
Ah, sweet hope. Is there nothing better? And even after all the mind-numbing madness that came before it, this film hands you hope at the end. What else could you ask for from a film?
Overall Review: 11 Mushrooms out of 10
No idea what that means, by the way, but the movie was an incredible visual treat. A surreal journey in the least. It was as if Stanley Kubrick (ala 2001) directing Carrie if it was written by Philip K. Dick and illustrated by Alex Grey. Wow, I think I nailed it right there. Could be the mushrooms talking, though. Not sure I ever came down after that…