Words // Film Review by Clifton Wilder Koons II
Argentinian filmmaker, Gaspar Noé, shocked critics at this year’s Cannes Film Festival with his most recent and, as always, highly controversial film, Love, which is a 3D love story amongst a threesome that blurs the line between art and pornography. The film’s theatrical release date in the United States remained uncertain for quite some time due to its overly graphic content. Even the film’s gratuitous movie posters warrant heavy censorship. Luckily, Love will hit select theaters in the U.S. on November 6, 2015, but in the meantime, the bravest of cinephiles should check out Noé’s previous, yet sadly underrated film, Enter the Void, which is currently available on Netflix for your viewing pleasure.
While films like Saw, Seven, House of a 1,000 Corpses, and American Psycho often overload the screen with shocking imagery and subject matter, where the criminally insane take pleasure in mutilating, torturing, and decapitating random strangers, Enter the Void packs a similar punch to the jugular like any horror film without having to rely entirely on blood and guts, but instead, Enter the Void exhibits scene after scene of ghastly and gut-wrenching scenarios that feel so real that you’ll grow sick to your stomach from grief rather than gore.
After Noé shocked the world with his previous film, Irreversible, which involved a woman being raped for ten minutes and two men brutally pummeling the rapist’s face with a fire extinguisher, he created Enter the Void and changed the way movies navigate through a story by placing the viewer behind the eyes of a drug dealer named Oscar, who dies within the first ten minutes of the film and hovers over his friends and loved ones as he witnesses the effects of his own tragic death. With a unique blend of artistic cinematography, beautiful imagery, constant nudity, and an intricate plot that could very well compete with such awarding winning dramas as American Beauty and No Country for Old Men, Enter the Void deserves praise and recognition for its pure shock value and originality.
To start off the film, Enter the Void crams the entire end credits into the first two minutes of the film in a large, colorful font that sporadically flashes on the screen. Those prone to seizures may want to fast-forward, but this strange opening prepares the viewer to slip into first person perspective as you become the main character, Oscar, as he places a pipe up against the screen, inhales a drug known as DMT, and then lays back on a pile of blankets and pillows as bizarre shapes and colors float through the air, taking you on a trip through the mind of someone high on a hallucinogen. This unique form of storytelling demolishes the gap between the viewer and the characters on screen, sucking you into a world filled with drugs, strippers, and the disintegrating lives of Oscar’s friends and family.
The cinematography alone makes this film a unique and captivating experience that will leave you gawking at the screen and forgetting to breath. For example, while other movies simply cut from one location to the next, Enter the Void literally transports the viewer through walls, rooms, buildings, and across the gritty streets of Tokyo as the story moves from one grimy apartment to the next. If that doesn’t catch your eye, the camera also dives into a bullet hole, follows a single sperm inside a woman’s cervix, and even navigates in and out of an enormous model hotel filled with real-life people having sex as colorful beams of light burst from their interlocked private parts.
Enter the Void also deviates from the common linear storytelling that most movies revolve around as the film cuts from Oscar and his sister, Linda, as adults, then plunges into the past to see the two of them as children, and suddenly skips forward into the future during his sister’s graphic abortion within just seconds. The camera even zooms in for a close up of the bloody fetus and zooms out to an entirely different scene. Such spectacular transitions and bizarre scenarios make this film an eye-opening experience rather than just another film jam-packed with cheap thrills and unnecessary sex scenes.
Sadly, the massive amount of scenes with little or no dialogue may leave some viewers bored and fidgeting with their cell phones, but each silent sequence increases the tension as Noé unexpectedly hits you with a brutal or erotic scenario that fires adrenaline straight to your heart. For example, for about ten minutes, numerous flashbacks of Oscar and his family on a camping trip flicker and flash on the screen. Then Noé quickly cuts to the supposed happy family driving through a dark tunnel as the camera peers out of the front windshield moments before an enormous semi-truck crashes into the front of the car and instantly kills Oscar’s mother and father, leaving the two children, Oscar and Linda, bawling in the backseat as the their parents lay dead in the front with their blood-spattered faces gazing back at them. In other words, Noé incorporates several mellow and heartfelt scenes so you drop your guard, and then he rips your heart out of your chest.
So don’t expect to watch Enter the Void with your family gathered around a big bowl of popcorn. Instead, turn out the lights, gather some of your closest friends around the television, and allow Enter the Void to grab you by the heart and squeeze, throwing you into a whirlwind of emotions.
FINAL FILM GRADE: A+