A film as strange as Panos Cosmatos’ Beyond The Black Rainbow deserves two sets of opinions, I’d say? While you’ve already heard Angela’s thoughts, I’m all up in this bitch to tell you how I took to this 80s Sci-Fi/Horror throwback.
I saw the trailer months ago for this film and was stunned. I had pretty high expectations for it, only which about half of those were met. It wasn’t exactly the amazing 80s throwback that I wanted it to be. I had hoped it would feel like as fun of a throwback as Ti West’s House Of The Devil did a few years ago. Instead, I got a largely forgettable film with a near nonexistent story, or at least one too stupid for me to comprehend (or maybe I’m just the stupid one).
I’m not sure I can properly describe the plot, so I’m just going to cheat and copy it from Wikipedia:
Deep within the mysterious Arboria Institute, a beautiful girl (Eva Allan) is held captive by a scientist, Dr. Barry Nyle (Michael Rogers). Her mind is controlled by a sinister technology (a mysterious pyramid-shaped light). Speechlessly, she waits for her next session with the deranged Dr. Nyle. She escapes her cell under the watchful eye of Dr. Nyle peering through video monitors. She journeys through the darkest reaches of the Institute but Nyle won?t easily part with his most gifted and dangerous creation.
It seemed like the director was aiming for a mixture of 80s horror era-David Cronenberg and David Lynch, with the visual style of Stanley Kubrick. He failed miserably on the Cronenberg and Lynchian vibes, in my opinion. Sure both of those directors are known to be weird (and in Lynch’s case, REALLY weird), but their films are weird with a purpose. Although, while I am a massive David Lynch fan, I will admit that he gets fairly close to being pretentiously weird at times (Inland Island, anyone?). Cosmatos seemed to just want to be weird simply for the sake of being weird. Absolutely none of it served a point, and each scene felt like he would ask himself, when writing the screenplay, “what can I do that is even weirder than before?”. It was so pretentiously weird that it wasn’t even interesting. I tried forcing myself to be interested on several occasions, but ended up finding myself on Tumblr looking up Breaking Bad gifs and stuff like that. There were far too many extended sequences of droning dialogue that went nowhere and meant absolutely nothing.
But, where Cosmatos failed, I did feel he succeeded in the visual department. The dude has got a lot of talent behind the camera. The set design for Black Rainbow was absolutely stunning. At times successfully recreating Kubrick’s visual style that was reminiscent of a modern 2001, mixed with a little bit of TRON: Legacy. Everything was super moody, with lots of florescent backlighting and fog. But as beautiful as the film looked, it still, as a whole, didn’t have any substance, so you can only get so interested with just the visuals before you lose interest completely.
The only other thing that Black Rainbow had going for it was it’s score, created by Jeremy Schmidt from the canadian band Black Mountain. The whole thing was made on analog synthesizers from the early 80s and sounded like the best cheesiest 80s horror score you’ve heard since a genuine 80s horror flick. It reminded me so much of all the cheesy 80s B-Movie horror flicks that I love.
Through all of the cool imagery and music, Beyond The Black Rainbow could not be saved. Far too much weird shit with no purpose. The Daft Punk robot alien baby, the weird zombie/mummy thing, the 1960s flash back with the tar pit or whatever the hell that was supposed to be, it was all just too much for me. And don’t get me wrong, I love dark and weird stuff. Hell, Twin Peaks is one of my favorite shows ever, but this was just TOO weird for me. I wanted to love it, especially with the awesome 80s throwback elements, but instead, I kind of borderline hated it. Bummer.
I give Beyond The Black Rainbow TWO Moog Synthesizers out of FIVE:
One for visuals, One for music, Zero for substance.