[This article was originally written as an assignment for my degree.]
Panos Cosmatos’ 2010 debut, Beyond The Black Rainbow is a strong statement of intent. The film crosses the genre line between science-fiction horror and psycho-thriller, whilst simultaneously identifying as a piece of film from the plots period, 1983.
The film sets its mood with an introductory video, bringing us into the world of the Arboria Institute, a developed cult-like science group whom want to further the development of humanity. Within the Institute is Elena (Eva Bourne), a girl held captive whom holds dangerous psychic abilities; the Doctor Barry Nyle (Michael Rogers) interrogates her to get her to further her abilities and justify the work he is carrying out.
As the basic plot revolves around the escape of Elena, and the revealing of Barry Nyle as an insane damaged man changed by an otherworldly nightmarish experience, one would be forgiven if this sounded like the basis to Stranger Things, the hit Netflix series. Where this differs however is the visual style and the deliberate slow pacing of the film.
The colour saturation in Beyond The Black Rainbow shifts from red to red to blue to white to pink, while maintaining a dream-like/nightmare-like ethereal quality. The edits between scenes, and the pacing of the action (what little there is), entices us into feeling this hallucinogenic fever dream.
Iconographic beings like the psychic, the doctor, the ill patriarch, the mutated experiments and the ‘Sentionauts’, firmly hold the audiences hand through its 2-hour run time. This for some (if not most) audiences would seem like a chore. However, the film rewards those who are invested with its themes of control, drug use, and the power of television (albeit the TV of the 80s). Elena escaped from the institute, but one would be implored to delve back in.
Here is the synopsis:
Despite being under heavy sedation, a young woman tries to make her way out of the Arboria Institute, a secluded, quasifuturistic commune.