AFI FEST 2011: Beyond The Black Rainbow

16 Nov

Every year at AFI Fest Presented By Audi there are a few films that get showcased at the midnight hour, films that are a little bit more edgy and challenging than what plays throughout the day. Last year the favorite was Julia’s Eyes, an homage to Giallo film. Going into Beyond the Black Rainbow I half expected to get some kind of homage to Kubrick, and what I got instead was kind of a confused mess.

Beyond the Black Rainbow doesn’t have much of a story to speak of. We’re introduced to a psychiatrist (Michael Rogers) quite infatuated with his patient who just so happens to be able to melt the faces off of people when provoked. He experiments on her day in and day out, trying to get to the source of her powers. There’s also a subplot involving transformative black goop and a triangular device that’s able to make everyone writhe in sexual ecstacy. Eventually the patient attempts to escape, setting off a chain of events that will change everyone forever.

There are a few things that work here in the film, first being the atmosphere. Beyond feels like a lost Kubrick film from the 80s. The musical cues come in at all the right times and accentuate the weird that’s onscreen. There will be entire movements in the film that are nothing but slow tracking shots and droning music. Arboria Institute is truly a strange place, and the filmmaker gets that across effectively.

The casting is also quite solid. Michael Rogers brings a menace to his psychiatrist character that’s hard to ignore. Every little twitch and glare is enough to make you wonder when he’ll completely lose it. The young patient, played by Eva Allen, balances her vulnerable yet powerful character well, never going over-the-top. She even managed to pull off creepy a time or two in the beginning of the film.

Where the film loses me is with the third act, when all hell breaks loose. What was once a Kubrick film becomes a slasher film, with the Psychiatrist hunting down his patient outside of the facility. All of the craft from the beginning of the film is gone and in it’s place some rather standard horror fare. There’s this sexual overtone in the third act that’s inconsistently hinted at throughout the movie and it just plays out as awkward instead of horrific like I’m sure it was intended. Enter The Void was able to do this a lot more effectively and maintain much of the same imagery.

Beyond the Black Rainbow is currently ranked at #912 on my flickchart. If you’re looking for a weird, nightmarish sci-fi romp that’s inconsistent then this is your film. Otherwise, you might be better served with other films in the genre.


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