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Panic at the Disco 

"Climax" offers free anxiety with ticket price

How uncomfortable do you like being? Like, on a scale that starts with your exes becoming lovers, to a slow-motion car accident where everyone is making eye contact with you? That's this movie. A 90-minute crash in which you see the accident up ahead, you know it's coming and are absolutely powerless to stop it. You can't even warn anyone.

It's all fun and games until someone spikes the punch. - COURTESY OF IMDB
  • Courtesy of IMDb
  • It's all fun and games until someone spikes the punch.

"Climax" tells the story of a French dance troupe rehearsing for an upcoming show in a remote and empty building. The first half of the film follows the characters as they dance, gossip, drink home-made sangria and share their love and joy with each other. The second half is a car battery exploding in your face as everyone slowly begins to realize that the sangria was spiked with LSD. They all have the worst night of their entire lives.

Filmmaker/provocateur Gaspar Noé has made some of the most disturbing films ever made, starting with the repugnant "Irreversible" to the haunting "Enter the Void," to his most recent exercise in graphic imagery, "Love."

His sensibilities as a storyteller are juvenile at times, but his technique as a filmmaker is unparalleled as he moves the camera (which he operates himself) with a ferocious assurance unseen since the early days of David Fincher.

All of Noé's films are centered around one big idea that gets hammered into the viewer's soul throughout the running time. "Climax" is no different. If "Enter the Void" was Noé's take on "The Tibetan Book of the Dead," then "Climax" is his look at the Book of Revelation in "The Bible."

Noé looks at civilization as something hanging by the thinnest of threads; when we crack the veneer of humanity, the lizard brain we carry begins to attack. The dancers start out the film with a breathtaking one-shot dance sequence that shows the beautiful things we can create together when we collaborate.

By the end, some of them are dead, disfigured and destitute, while others are still smiling; still twirling as the blood soaks through their dance shoes. For some, the LSD acted as a release of their inhibitions, while others found the ugliness inside themselves and tried to cut it out.

This film is a nightmare. I went with a friend to see it and the theater was empty when we got there. Halfway through (before the bad trip even started), my friend couldn't stand the movie anymore and took off, leaving me alone to watch everything go to hell. By the time I walked out of the theater I was disturbed, sick to my stomach, deeply uncomfortable and in love with cinema, which can do all that awful crap to me all at once. But that's just me. You might not like this.

Climax
Dir. Gaspar Noé
Grade: A-
Old Mill Stadium 16 & IMAX

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