Throughout “Spooktober,” Nicklaus Neitling reviews one horror property each weekday.
Taking place in a secluded abandoned school in the dead of winter, Gaspar Noé’s new French extremity film Climax follows a large hip–hop dance troupe working under a prestigious choreographer. After completing their routine, the choreographer throws them a dance party to celebrate. Someone spikes the sangria with LSD and everyone has a bad trip.
The film is shot in two long takes. The camera doesn’t cut away from anything but rather follows the ensuing depravity to the very end. This gives us the feeling that we’re at this dance party gone to hell and there’s nothing we can do to stop the chaos. Unlike Birdman, in which the camera zooms in and out of surfaces to hide cuts, Climax’s tracking shots are very clearly one take. Noé directs these shots with such intensity that I’ve questioned my love for long takes.
The film’s use of colours is phenomenal. Climax is drenched in vibrant colours that complement the intense atmosphere all while maintaining the setting of the dance party. The music blends with the colours to create a tense aesthetic that few other films match.
What it did to me:
This film broke me.
I spent the last third of Climax in tears. Once the LSD trip turns bad, the film doesn’t let up. It full-on caused an anxiety attack. I grabbed an empty popcorn bag and tried to breathe into it. My friend leaned over and let me know it was okay to leave. Despite that, I fought myself to remain in the theatre to finish the film.
When the movie ended, my friends and I left the theatre in silence. We parted with a short goodbye. I sat in my car for 20 minutes in silence. I texted my mother and told her I loved her.
I haven’t had much of an appetite since I watched it. I’ve barely been able to sleep.
All this in the name of Spooktober.
I can’t recommend this film to anyone. No content warning I offer will prepare you for what this movie contains. The film’s continuous shot doesn’t give you a break. There’s no quick cut to a calmer moment. Noé doesn’t give you that break; you’re locked in with the characters. This film won’t scare you as much as it will rob you of any happiness you may have left. Don’t believe me; watch it for yourself. The only challenge I set forth is this: once you press play, like the dancers, you’re not allowed to quit.
Rating: Don’t drink the fucking sangria.