Climax Movie Review
An enthralling, intoxicating descent into madness, Climax is the one of the weirder horror movies you’ll see all year—but undeniably one of the best. From controversial director Gaspar Noé, Climax isn’t for everyone—in fact, it is likely for a very few—but it is Satan’s Poem if you’ve ever seen one.
What begins as an intricate and fast-paced dance party in which Noé lets his camera sit, often for what feels like ten minutes at a time, and capture choreographed and fast-paced routines slowly, methodically, and organically turns into Hell itself, an all too realistic nightmare. Noé never defines the moment in which his film turns from innocent ensemble to sinister disaster, nor could I or anyone pinpoint the scene in which things turn for the worst (but turn it does)—a feat of storytelling not to be overlooked.
Climax doesn’t have much in the way of traditional plot, nor does the screenplay help in that regard, but the movie is one of the most masterfully assembled pieces of nightmare art put to screen in quite a while. There are no ghouls or monsters or killers here, only the drug-fueled minds of the victims trapped in their own version of Hades.
Noé is an acquired taste, and his complete disregard for convention—even the cinematography, a key part of Climax’s equation, bucks the norm, the camera drawing in and away from its subjects with abandon, occasionally rotating to view the world in an upside down, twisted, disturbed way. In its final, frightening moments, Noé perhaps oversteps as he plunges headfirst into the insanity, the camera so close it’s hard to see what’s going on and who is doing what. It’s all intentional, of course. So very intentional.
Climax is not the kind of movie I’ll likely ever revisit, and yet it is an enthralling piece of cinema, a film that both requires your full attention, deserves it, and seemingly tricks the mind into knowing it from the first scene.
My wife, who watched pieces of it—drawn in by the elaborate dance numbers—insists she didn’t like the movie, but she also can’t deny she could rarely look away, so accomplished Noé’s work is. Again, Climax is not for everyone, nor does it beg for repeat viewing, but that doesn’t make it any less special, any less powerful.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.