Gaspar Noé’s Climax is a mesmerising, mind-bending spectacle that is not just a feast for the eyes and ears – but an emotional and psychological journey that will take you on a path one-less travelled in the realms of horror. It’s closest relation – at a guess – would be Suspiria. But as I haven’t seen the latter I can only comment from my own experience.
If you are a horror fan and are looking for something different, a unique take on horror – then I highly recommend Climax. You won’t be disappointed.
I had seen the Blu Ray release in the Arrow Video range in my local store. It had caught my eye an number of times while browsing, drawing my attention to the distributor’s modern releases alongside the remastered classics.
After (what felt like hours of) browsing the same old Netflix selections on Saturday night and switching off a few with disappointing starts, I instantly clicked on Climax in desperate hope of finding a good film to watch. I don’t regret my choice in the slightest. It’s Monday morning and I’m sitting in a coffee shop still thinking about how great this film is.
I occasionally dip into and thoroughly enjoy foreign language films but have rarely experimented with art-house films. Climax has very little to offer in the way of story and it doesn’t need to. The premise is: a bunch of dancers are hired to work with a renound choreographer Selva (played by The Mummy’s Sofia Boutella) and after a successful rehearsal they have a party to celebrate. The punch is spiked and the trip works its dark magic. Chaos ensues. This simple idea is the thread that holds it together beginning to end.
The film opens with an aerial shot of a woman running through snow. She falls, leaving blood-stained tracks. The film then cuts to a TV screen where we’re invited to watch a series of interviews that introduce the dancers about to embark on this creative life-affirming journey. Very reminiscent of the interviews in Michael Jackson’s This Is It and Madonna’s In Bed with Madonna (or Truth or Dare as it was titled in the US). Piled either side of the TV set were a number of French horror titles – for the aficionadas among us.
When the end titles followed so early on in the film, I knew I was in for something unconventional. Excited by not knowing what to expect next.
And boy was I pleasantly surprised. What came next was one of the most captivating pieces of dance/film-making I’ve ever seen.
This hypnotic scene was thrilling to watch. I’m no dance expert but, there were definitely elements of vogue-ing infused with street and contemporary choreography. And like the opening interviews you are invited to get to know a little more about the characters through the dance. It’s one of the best things I’ve seen on the small screen. I could only imagine the impact of watching on the big screen.
Moving on, the dancers separate into their cliques and we are treated to observe their conversations – which centre around love, sex and relationships. They dip into the punch some more and another dance sequence follows. This time we’re treated to watching the sequence from the ceiling – another aerial shot. Again, this is visual delight to see how bodies look and move from above. All the while the spiked punch starts to take effect. At this point I felt like I should’ve switched off by now but, something compelled to keep watching. I just couldn’t keep my eyes of the screen.
Opening credits flash in the middle of the film – signalling Act 1 was over and all hell was about to break lose. And it did.
The camera weaves in and out of the building, observing the unfolding stories. At no point did any of it feel rehearsed or planned and, at times, it feels like it’s all been filmed in one take. Passing from scene-to-scene, story-to-story – everything had a natural flow to it. And as the chaos mounted toward its climatic finale we were treated to watch from an entirely different angle. Because of the drug – the dancers’ world is literally turned upside down.
I highly recommend this film. If someone had told me the synopsis of this movie I probably would’ve said: “no, I don’t think so – sounds pretentious.” But it’s not. Its a horrifying movie that taps into the characters’ insecurities, twists them round with a dose of LSD-infused punch to bring out rage and paranoia and have those secret, lies and deceptions work against them.
And to top it all off – who did spike the punch? Only one way to find out.
Want something different? Watch this.
Mind blowing. 5 out of 5.
Climax is available from Amazon on Blu Ray and DVD.
Check out the trailer here.