In 1983, a young woman is locked away at a state-of-the-art experimental facility, doped and duped into controlling her special powers by a demented doctor. Held prisoner, her psychedelic reality is pushed to the test as the doctor’s sanity begins slipping, and the young woman must escape the facility before it is too late.
Originally released in 2010, Panos Cosmatos’ Beyond the Black Rainbow was finally released on home video in 2012. And it is easily the best movie of this year. The art design, lensing, soundtrack by Sinoia Caves all polish the plastic of perceived reels of an unremembered ’80s. What seems like homage to dated John Carpenter-ripoffs that went straight to video and Saturday-afternoon poor programming, playing after American Ninja and Battle Beyond the Stars, turns out to be a slow-burning, deeply disturbing horror movie. After viewing the trailer, I expected the film to be even more experimental, something like the hallucinations of Enter the Void. But instead, I found a patient portent building to unexpected excitement, thrills and horror. What some may view as pretentious, I found perceptive, and the film ends up feeling like a horror-ode to 2001: A Space Odyssey, filling frames with careful compositions and technological terrors.
If you enjoy a tribute to an ’80s-that-never-was, slow-moving but rousing psychological horror films, then pick up Beyond the Black Rainbow now, and imagine dusting off that chipped-plastic cover from your gas station Video Rental, slip it in your top-loading VCR, press Play and fade in to the Black Rainbow.