Tuesday, January 4, 2011

REVIEW: Enter the Void

Remember Joe Rogan, the host of Fear Factor? If you don't, I know you remember the show, because everyone watched it. Everyone seems to love watching people do crazy (and sometimes disturbing) things, which is why I think everyone will want to see the super-psychedelic thriller Enter the Void, although the majority of it I would be more than afraid to watch with my mom.

The reason I mention Joe Rogan is because he is a major advocate of the psychedelic drug DMT, which is one of the most potent of all drugs, and just happens to be the key to Enter the Void. If you don't know anything about the drug's effects, I suggest you do some research. There are even some videos on Youtube of Rogan talking about DMT that are pretty entertaining. Visionary director Gaspar Noe comes off the slate of his previous chiller Irreversible and directs his "dream project," which ultimately comes off as one of the worst DMT trips imaginable and results as the ultimate modern tragedy.

The film follows Oscar, an American drug dealer living in Tokyo. His mentor, who appears to be a wacked-out hippie, suggests that Oscar lay off the drugs when he approaches him after tripping on DMT and asks for something stronger. He tells Oscar about The Tibetan Book of the Dead and then suggests that he look into spirituality rather than drugs. He goes into explaining his idea of the afterlife, which is rather interesting, considering that it explains everything that happens in the movie after this point.

Sadly, Oscar is killed at this point, but of course that is the point of the film, which is shot entirely in first-person. That's weird to comprehend, I know, especially since the person we're following dies early in the film, but trust me it goes into territory I've rarely if ever seen in movies before. We see Oscar journey into the afterlife, in which he relives moments of his life in a Slaugherhouse-Five style, unable to control what moments are relived, whether they are good, or in this case, really really bad.

What will put off a lot of viewers is the sexual content of the film, as well as Oscar's relatively strange relationship with his sister, and an ending that will offend almost everyone I know. The good thing is that it is all intentional, of course, as Gaspar Noe takes us on this bad trip that we cannot stop ourselves from watching, simply because deep down we don't want to, regardless of how disturbing it gets. It is a masterful portrait of this director's take on the afterlife, as well as a superb illustration of a DMT trip for anyone who is interested.

In the end, 'Enter the Void' feels like a mixture of Requiem for a Dream, Momento, The Fountain, and The Life Before Her Eyes. The latter of which this is most similar to, and stars Uma Thurman and Evan Rachel Wood, but kind of went unnoticed. However, you'll see where I'm coming from when I say that this is just as great as any of those great films, if not better. The camera angles are astounding with long tracking shots and eerie psychedelic visuals that take you on a mindblowing ride, leaving you with the feeling that perhaps you had been looking at life the wrong way. That's what DMT does to a person.