(director/writer: Panos Cosmatos; cinematographer: Norm Li; editor: Nicholas T. Shepard; cast: Michael Rogers (Barry Nyle), Eva Allan (Elena), Scott Hylands (Mercurio Arboria), Marilyn Norry (Rosemary Nyle); Runtime: 109; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Oliver Linsley/Christya Nordstokke; Magnolia Pictures; 2010-Canada)

“If you follow the muddled spacy film’s logic throughout, you deserve a merit honor badge for devotion to service beyond the call of duty.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A weird, incoherent and baffling dream-bound fantasy sci-fi film helmed and written by the Canadian Panos Cosmatos, in his debut feature film. If you follow the muddled spacy film’s logic throughout, you deserve a merit honor badge for devotion to service beyond the call of duty. It was filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The trippy scenario and surreal visuals make its appeal mostly to the midnight-movie LSD crowd and those who like puzzlers that might not hold up to conventional scrutiny and those who admire filmmakers who take risks to preserve their art. I found it a chore to just keep from nodding out at the slow pace and insubstantial narrative, and found the experimental film as endearing as a nightmare. It features a tantalizing hypnotic analog synthesizer score by Jeremy Schmidt of “Sinoia Caves” and “Black Mountain,” which attempts to keep most viewers awake and feeling through its dark music the eeriness of institutional malfeasance. The pic takes a riff on Kenneth Anger films, as it blows angel dust at everyone acting in the film and even at those viewing it from a safe distance might get a contact high.

The dystopian film set supposedly in the future, in 1983, making it a Reagan-era horror story that takes place in the ‘new age’ Arboria Institute, a perverse experimental science institution operated by the giddy evil scientist Barry Nyle (Michael Rogers) who cruelly treats the mute girl Elena (Eva Allan) in a claustrophobic room of doom. She’s a sedated patient held in captivity by the wigged-out doctor subjecting her to torturous questions that she (or for that matter the audience) cannot answer but who possesses supernatural mind power to fight back against his pyramid-like glowing light.

It might at times be visually pleasing, but it still seems like a waste of time if sober to watch something so purposefully self-centered and inexorably impenetrable.But let me concede that a rare artistic film like this one has its own strange language that I possibly just didn’t get on one viewing, and it might deserve another look before dismissing it as a bomb. Nevertheless I can only respond the way I saw it and not what it might turn out to be in due time.