Arriving on Blu-Ray and DVD in the North American market as of Tuesday, May 28th from Lionsgate is Climax– a dizzying and disorienting assault on the senses from Argentine-French Filmmaker Gaspar Noé (Irréversible 3003, Enter The Void 2009). As a director that has never been one to shy away from controversial and disturbing content, Noé brings audiences yet another hypnotic and provocative Horror film that has been a hot topic among critics and film enthusiasts alike since premiering at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. In enough words, Climax takes viewers on a drug-laced whirlwind that is both visceral and unforgiving. So, are you ready to descend into madness?
At approximately 97 minutes, Climax is a thrill-ride into delirium, highlighted by passion and violence – both animalistic in intent. The film stars Sofia Boutella (The Mummy 2017, Hotel Artemis 2018), Romain Guillermic (Elektro Mathematrix 2016), Souhelia Yacoub (Plus belle la vie series, Les affamés 2018), and Claude Gajan Maull (Woke series, Lux Æterna 2019) alongside a professional troupe of dancers to fill out this ensemble.
The film follows a dance troupe gathering for rehearsal one wintry night, and as the night goes on, a party ensues. To their surprise they soon discover that the sangria they have been consuming has been laced with LSD, and a night that starts out as seemingly harmless, soon turn into a hellish decent into madness. Adding to the mood, Noé’s stunning cinematography paired with the pulsing beat of electronic music makes for a nightmarish feel that, while it is captivating, is also nausea-inducing.
In a similar fashion to 2002’s Irréversible, Climax opens with the end credits, but then it cuts to a series of interviews from the dance troupe as they prepare for a US tour. There is talk of the excessive drug use in Berlin, drawing parallels to the events that take place later in the film. Despite the title, there is no specific ‘climax’ and resolution as you would find in most traditional film sequences.
Instead, the film is as disorienting as it is unrelenting as it gradually begins to pick away at humanity to display it in its most primal state. In fact, the ending is a bleak as the stark, white snow that lies on the ground outside the dance hall. The thunderous bass continues to pound as you are subjected to depravity while the dancers become unhinged as the LSD begins stripping away at what little bit is left of them. The once seductive crimson hue that consumed the dance floor, soon became the overlay for the ghastly and increasingly violent behavior as these characters find themselves in the closest thing to hell imaginable.
Overall, Climax is a gripping and provocative take on the effects of drugs. The jerky camera movements and voyeuristic shots give off the feeling that it is something that should not be seen. Furthermore, the use of the body between dance shots and the disjointed shakiness as the LSD takes over invokes a bodily reaction that forces you to feel everything as the tragedy unfolds. It is a painful witness as party-goers slowly lose themselves against their will, something none of them asked for, thus essentially being forced upon them. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives Climax 3.5 out of 5 stars.