Writer/director Gaspar Noe’s frenetic new film Climax is a hypnotic journey into the warped psyches of some extremely gifted physical performers, and it is the best way to experience a bad acid trip.
Climax is “a French film, and proud of it” (as stated in the opening credits), about a dance troupe that comes together one night to rehearse and then to party, only to have the festivities quickly spiral into a nightmare after it is discovered that the sangria everyone has been drinking was spiked with LSD.
For horror fans, the film is made up of two extended dialogue scenes that give you an idea of who the varying characters are and three crazy good dance numbers, culminating in a final act of pulsating violence, sex, and blood. I admittedly have not seen any of Noe’s prior work and I know nothing about the world of dance, but I know that what I saw in the opening dance number is something more akin to body contortions than Broadway, and I loved it. By the final number, my mind was putty in Noe’s hands.
The film’s biggest success may be the fact that it never resorts to “showing” viewers the hallucinations that the characters are seeing (no liquid CGI, wavy blurring, animation, or stop motion effects), but it is nonetheless a visceral viewing experience that takes you along on their very bad trip without the typical trickery.
The Mummy‘s Sophia Boutella is outstanding as the group’s choreographer, a physical marvel in that opening dance sequence and an emotional roller coaster once the party begins to deteriorate. She’s absolutely magnetic and somehow relatable in her mental descent, and she’s the “hero” we’re hoping is going to save that little kid locked in an electrical closet after he drank some of the sangria. (You read that right.)
The violence is quick and hard, as it is in real life, puncturing the acid-soaked madness in a few very simple but highly effective ways that haunted me days after viewing.
The lone bonus feature included on the DVD/Blu-ray is an all too brief 10-minute featurette with Boutella talking about what a challenging and rewarding experience working with Noe was, but the director does not appear at all, and there is no feature length commentary, continuing an unfortunate recent trend.
While it certainly won’t be for everyone, and it’s clearly not meant to be, Climax drips with horror and dances to its own beat.
Climax is out now on Blu-ray, from Lionsgate. (Order it here.)
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