This is the sixth in a series of 'Netflix streaming roulette' reviews. Austin horror examiner Michael Taylor reviews the first movie off 'Netflix' streaming that he's never seen before. Wish him luck.
Even the best horror movies follow a well-worn horror formula, but every once in awhile a film comes along that it so visually audacious that it adds new wrinkles and context to the genre.
Such is the case with 'Beyond The Black Rainbow,' a retro-80's thriller (ala 'Drive' and 'House of The Devil') that is greatly indebted to Michael Mann's 1986 film 'Manhunter' (which was the first adaptation of Thomas Harris's 'Red Dragon' novel, and which predated 'Silence Of The Lambs').
Like 'Manhunter', 'Rainbow' is soaked with neon lights and a bold color scheme.
The story however goes off in a sci-fi tangent; Elena is an orphan possessing psychic abilities. But her gifts are thwarted in an institute that bills itself as a feel-good New Age healing center, but is actually a cruel prison. It's run by Dr. Barry Nyle (Michael Rogers).
At first glance he seems caring and professional, but his delayed syntax and psychotic gaze reveal that the inmate is truly running the asylum.
The plot involving his sadistic obsession with Elena takes a back seat to the visuals. Hypnotic flashes of light and surreal use of color gives it a rich, luxuriant look that belies its meager budget. And Sinoia Caves's synth-score gives it an even more trance-like quality.
This can at times lull the viewer into a calming state; I actually found myself dozing off at times, which doesn't exactly scream compelling horror movie. It's lack of coherence can also be frustrating.
But there are some definite frightening moments, such as a flashback showing Nyle taking a hallucinogen to achieve transcendence. But it results in a murderous act and a shedding of his sanity.
The film was directed by Panos Cosmatos, the son of director George P. Cosmatos ('Rambo First Blood Part II') who clearly was a quick study of his father's work, but goes off in an entirely different direction.
'Beyond The Black Rainbow' is a disorienting, left-of-center horror flick that won't appeal to fans who want a more direct, visceral approach. But for those who enjoy experimental filmmaking and a different change of pace, you might find it an unforgettable experience.
Directed by Panos Cosmatos
Produced by Oliver Linsley
Screenplay by Panos Cosmatos
Starring Michael Rogers
Music by Sinoia Caves
Studio Chromewood Productions
Running time 110 minutes