A Life of Film + [mindfuck]

Beyond The Black Rainbow (2010)

Heavy, slow, dense and abstract; this is the type of movie that to me embodies the mindfuck genre. Effortlessly channels icons like Kubrick and Lynch while steadily maintaining its own identity. Golly goodness, this is a little gem.

Despite what that trailer may make you think, Beyond The Black Rainbow is, for the most part, a hypnotic and slow moving film. It's one hell of a throwback to that particular style of the sci-fi of yore, with a healthy bit of horror thrown in. In a very rough nutshell, the story revolves around a mad scientist's attempt to control the mental powers of his unwilling subject. There are also a lot of drugs involved. Well shit, that really was a rough nutshell, wasn't it? I mean there's quite a bit more going on than that, but to be honest I'm not entirely clear on too much else. Yay! Indeed, this is the sort of mindfuck that I'm not treated to very often anymore. Ironically, one of the reasons why this one has such strong appeal, is because it is quite unique and idiosyncratic. Obviously, this film wasn't made with an audience in mind. Even in such a strong niche as mindfuck cinema, you often get watered down productions that want to also be accessible and marketable. I'm thinking of Revolver or the director's cut of Donnie Darko(which I have only recently seen and immediately wished that I hadn't), for example. The ones that try to have their cakes and eat them too, to use an expression that I hate and still don't really understand.
This is not the case here. This film is the result of a singular man's vision, or perhaps a small handful of others at the most may have also been privy to it. But this one man, he doesn't give a shit. He just wants to make the film he wants to make, all else be damned. He is an auteur. An artiste. And my inappropriate cynicism aside, he's quite brilliant. From a technical standpoint, the thing I undoubtedly enjoyed the most was the way the set design, cinematography and editing (and holy moly, dat soundtrack) very often come together to create a sequence that really is more than the sum of its parts. I'm struggling a little to explain this, but you get a lot of movies that look great and are edited without missing a beat, and yet remain completely pedestrian, to be forgotten even before the film is over. And then something like this comes along, where the simplest sequence, such as an elevator door opening or someone walking is made into a full blown spectacle that'll stay with you for a while to come. Beyond The Black Rainbow is full of moments like these. Even when the film is at its most batshit crazy and you're thinking 'what the hell were they thinking', you can't help but appreciate the effort that went into making it look the way it does.
The set design and soundtrack in particular are absolutely amazing but often they'll work in combination with all the other tricks up a filmmaker's sleeve to even greater effect. Alrighty then. So now that we've safely established all that, it's time for me stop kissing the film's ass, because there is one thing in particular that really rubbed me the wrong way. Spoilers ahead.
As I've said already, the villain was wonderful. Barry (what a ridiculous name for a mad scientist, btw.) was sufficiently creepy and hate-able from the get go, but then we get a glimpse into his journal, and we learn about his past, and then his transformation happens, and by that point he really does become a quintessential movie bad guy. It's a pleasure to see him start at such a low point, and then he just keeps lowering that bar. And then, at the point of the film's climax, at that perfect moment of coming face to face with his prey, he trips, falls over, and dies by hitting his head on a fucking rock. God damn it. Screw you for that, Black Rainbow. But yeah, beyond that, it's damn near the perfect example of a mindfuck movie and you should definitely see it.