The only midnight movies that seem to get any cultural traction these days are wildly miscalculated ineptfests like The Room (“You’re tearing me apart!”) or Birdemic. So something as ambitiously bizarre as Panos Cosmatos’s ’70s-style sci-fi mind-fuck may feel like a premeditated bid for insta-cultdom, but more important, it’s a welcome attempt to bring back the days of El Topo and Eraserhead, when night owls embraced directors who wanted to screw with viewers’ heads, not just the ones who screwed up their chances for auteristic posterity.
The year is 1983. A demented, pill-popping psychiatrist (Michael Rogers) is working at what might generously be described as an experimental health-care facility (more accurately, a place where people take craploads of drugs and do horrible things to one another) and attempting to reach a mute young girl (Eva Allan). It sounds simple enough, but the plot is merely the launching pad for the movie’s surreal, hypnotic imagery; just one movie into his career, Cosmatos—the son of Rambo: First Blood Part II filmmaker George P. Cosmatos—has already produced his family’s most stylish work. Though the finale feels a bit anticlimactic, the lysergic atmosphere, synth-heavy score and logic-resistant story line more than earn Beyond the Black Rainbow’s concluding quote, borrowed from another classic midnight movie: “No matter where you go…there you are.” See the late show.
Follow Matt Singer on Twitter: @mattsinger