27. Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010)
OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG! I loved this movie! (Okay, well... I didn't love the last ten minutes—at all, but I understand what the filmmaker was trying to do. It just didn't work for me. But despite this tonally jarring conclusion, I still love the movie. The first hour and forty minutes are just too fucking good to be pissed on by a bad creative decision at the end, and since the movie isn't really plot-oriented, overall damage to the integrity of the film is—I think—minimal.)
You know how Netflix tries to predict how many stars you'll give a movie you haven't seen based on the ratings you've given films you have seen? Well, since I have rated around 2,000 movies on the site, I've thoroughly confused the Netflix metric. It's no longer terribly confident that it can discern what might please my mercurial tastes. As a result, I would estimate that it predicts a rating of two to three stars for 90% of movies in the Netflix catalog. If Netflix predicts three stars, I'm reasonable sure I'll find something of value in the film—even I don't end up dry humping it. On the other hand, if Netflix predicts fewer than two-and-a-half stars, it's good bet I'll quit watching the movie before I get to the end. So—as you can see—this half star interval is a very small window of opportunity for quality entertainment.
Yesterday as I was browsing the 'new releases' (quite a few of which are six months old, as per usual), I noticed that Beyond the Black Rainbow had been added. I'd never heard a thing about it before, but Netflix predicted a three-and-a-half star rating for me. Do you know how rarely the Netflix metric is willing to go out on a limb and anticipate a rating higher than three stars for me? You don't? Well, it's really, really rare. Trust me.
Score one for the metric! This creepy sci-fi-horror homage is all about mood—and not much else—so if you're a film viewer who is unable to suspend the desire-to-know in favor of a languid fever dream, then hit the bricks. This flick ain't for you. It's set in 1983... or I should say in a funhouse version of 1983, where the vibe is frosty, retro-futuristic, and emotionally antiseptic. Elena, a mute teenager with powers of telepathy, is being terrorized by an haute-sinister psychotherapist at the Arboria sanitarium, a place so steely-cold and arctic-white that it makes Kubrick's 2001 spacecraft interiors look like a knotty pine cottage by comparison.
The reference to Kubrick is pointed—because Beyond the Black Rainbow is very much a delirious, drug-fueled homage. It's difficult to place all the visual quotes in the film, but there are very clear nods to Kubrick, Alejandro Jodorowsky, early Cronenberg, Phantasm, and even John Carpenter. I know that it's not a movie for everyone—you kind of have to be ready to let go of yourself for a couple hours and bask (or wallow, as they case may be) in a hyper-stylized, synth-drenched nightmare—but it's certainly the holy grail for a very particular audience. Namely, mine.
Here's the trailer. Check it out: