- James Mottram
- 17 September 2018
The ever-incendiary Gaspar Noé returns for an impressive, if somewhat irritating bad trip movie
Gaspar Noé's fifth feature is exactly what you might expect from the director of Enter the Void, Love and Irreversible. Extreme doesn't even begin to cover this one night in hell, an acid-spiked nightmare that will likely enthrall, bore and unnerve you. The end credits arrive at the beginning, the opening credits come halfway through, captions are upside down – this is one mixed-up movie.
Apparently based on a true-life event from 1996, an old TV plays to-camera interviews with the twenty or so characters that make up the film; wedged into a shelving unit, the TV is surrounded by books and VHS tapes – films like Suspiria, Un Chien Andalou and Possession, all doubtless influences on Noé. We then meet the interviewees for real, as this dance troupe come together to rehearse for a proposed American tour in an abandoned and isolated school.
Among this eclectic and ethnically diverse group are Sofia Boutella's choreographer Selva, alpha male David (Romain Guillermic) and the bikini-clad Psyche (Thea Carla Schott). Designed by Nina McNeely, the dance sequences are electric – a mesmerizing amalgam of styles as Krumpers, Waackers and Voguers writhe over each other. But when they take five to party, several of those assembled start to feel weird: somebody has poured LSD into the sangria (watch carefully and you'll see the culprit).
What follows is fairly horrifying as neuroses and anxiety take hold. Noé is a master at plunging viewers headlong into a psychological furnace, with music by Daft Punk, Soft Cell and Aphex Twin pounding, screams wailing and the camera floating upside down. It's the ultimate bad trip movie. Some of it will leave you aghast (a pregnant woman gets abused; a dosed-up boy gets locked in a cupboard). But it also feels tiresome as scenes drag on. It's a film that's somehow impressive and irritating all at once.
Selected release from Fri 21 Sep.