Panos Cosmatos’ psychedelic predecessor to Mandy

It may be too early to tell mandy as one of the great cult movies of the 2010s, but it’s almost certain to be. The second feature film by Cosmato Clothsthe film’s delightful blend of sleek visuals and high-octane violence – all centered around a typically manic Nicholas Cage performance – assured that it would be irresistible to moviegoers around the world. Most of the time it’s a retro fever dream that seems tailor-made for anyone who likes to drown in 80s nostalgia, but then Cosmatos will smash the throttle and turn things into John Wick going through a psychedelic nightmare. It’s a hell of a combination, but Cosmatos does a commendable job balancing it all out, resulting in a unique experience.

That’s, of course, assuming we didn’t mention the debut of Cosmatos, his 2010 sci-fi horror film. Beyond the Black Rainbow. The film flew under the radar upon its release, only gaining attention in retrospect after mandy abandoned eight years later. Despite this, he still hasn’t achieved equivalent levels of fame, a sentiment that may seem odd at first glance. On the surface, Beyond the Black Rainbow has a lot in common with its follow-up: a mesmerizing visual style, a New Age-inspired score, and enough ’80s references to delight any Gen Z who feels like they were born in the wrong decade. If that weren’t enough, it also features a plot about a young girl with psychic powers trapped in a shadowy research facility – a description that for anyone who’s spent more than five minutes on the internet will conjure up images of stranger things.

A melting pot of influences

But Beyond the Black Rainbow is a much different beast, eschewing the popcorn thrills Stephen King, John Charpentierand Steven Spielberg for a more atmospheric and cerebral experience that approximates a Stanley Kubrick Where Andrei Tarkovsky film. It’s slow, and as long as mandy wasn’t about to break the land speed record, it at least topped things off with some high-energy sets that looked like they were pulled from a heavy metal music video. black rainbow, meanwhile, has his foot on the brakes for so long that you’ll think the driver has fallen asleep. There’s minimal dialogue, few characters and fewer locations, and few actions that don’t involve two people looking at each other through glass. It’s essentially a two-hour mood piece, wallowing in its own style with such commitment that those seduced by its direction will be utterly mesmerized for its duration…while everyone else will be bored insane . Factor in the absence of a major star, and it’s easy to see why it hasn’t seen a revival despite hitting the same beats as mandy. It’s the absolute definition of a cult film, and even if Cosmatos becomes one of the biggest names in contemporary horror, it’s unlikely black rainbow will be anything but.

RELATED: ‘Nekrokosm’: In-Development Sci-Fi Fantasy Film From ‘Mandy’ Director Panos Cosmatos at A24

It’s such a shame, because not only is it a great movie for those who want to give its unique design a chance, it’s also one of the best examples of how to build an 80s throwback. Cosmatos makes no attempt to hide its influences, and fans of this niche of cinema will find great pleasure in picking out each homage, but most importantly, it uses those influences to create its own unique style rather than simply languishing in references to movies. other movies. It’s clear black rainbow was directed by someone with an unwavering love for cinema, Cosmatos drawing inspiration from such an eclectic range of source material that it becomes impossible to mistake this love letter for an attempt to follow a successful subgenre . This shouldn’t be surprising given that his father was George P. Cosmatosdirector of guilty pleasures Rambo: First Blood Part II and Cobra, and the fact that his formative years took place during such an important period for his father’s career and pop culture in general left a permanent mark on the young Panos Cosmatos. There’s a fine line between homage and rip-off, but pushing the film through the distant haze of a half-remembered nostalgic dream, Cosmatos is able to do something truly special.

Style over substance – but that’s a good thing

Beyond the Black Rainbow doesn’t attempt to hide the fact that its style takes center stage over substance, so its somewhat worn plot should come as no surprise to anyone. The year is 1983, and Dr. Barry Nyle (Michael Rogers), the psychopathic owner of a New Age research facility called the Arboria Institute, is conducting experiments on a young girl named Elena (Eva Allen) which allowed him to gain psychic powers. Secondary characters include the abusive nurse Margo (Rondel Reynoldson) and a mysterious entity called Sentionaut who acts as a makeshift henchman, but the focus is on Nyle and Elena as they struggle to gain the upper hand in this hellish environment. Its premise of scientific medal in the domain of God evokes memories of a David Cronenberg movie, but Cosmatos always keeps the aesthetic and thematic aspects of the movie front and center. The straightforward nature of the story won’t suit everyone, but viewers who can follow Cosmatos’ lead will be treated to a pure sensory experience that only the cinematic medium can provide.

And what an experience it is. People who like to create collages of pretty shots will find their happiness here, with Cosmatos and the director of photography Norm Lee creating one of the greatest visual achievements of its time. The barren hallways and minimalist architecture of the Arboria Institute are both beautiful and disturbing, often resembling the bedroom at the end of the 2001: A Space Odyssey – although bathed in colors bright enough to make Dario Argento jealous. Natural lighting is an alien concept here, with a deliberately unrealistic look giving these environments a surreal and unsettling quality that matches the depraved nature of its history. The increased use of color also makes the 1966 flashback even more stunning in comparison, with Cosmatos removing all but a few black outlines to create one of the most creative visual sequences in recent years (the term ‘travel acid” never described anything better). The use of 35mm and an outdated Panavision Panaflex Gold II camera gives the film a retro look that digital with some post-production effects applied to it could never compete, making black rainbow appear like a lost movie that was recently unearthed from the darkest corners of a studio vault. Combine that with a moody synth soundtrack and an editing style that sees every shot go on for twice as long as it should, and you’ve got everything you need for a movie that only a select group movie buffs will appreciate.

Shadows of Cronenberg and Kubrick

But films from this age of cinema are not a rare occasion. In fact, having a Cronenberg-inspired story, a Carpenter-inspired score, and Kubrick-inspired visuals is pretty much the bare minimum for an ’80s-inspired movie. Beyond the Black Rainbow adheres to these characteristics and more, so why does it stand out against its competitors? The answer comes in two parts. That’s partly because Cosmatos remembers drawing inspiration from both mainstream and obscure sources that prove his love for ’80s cinema is genuine, as opposed to him trying to cash in on the latest fad (how much of films have explicit references to Stage IV and generates?), but more importantly, it’s because he understands how to weaponize a reference for his own gain, using it as a starting point to explore new concepts rather than wallowing in what has come before.

For example, the shadow of Cronenberg’s obsession with body horror hangs over black rainbowbut these films have always focused on the characters of these evil worlds and the repercussions of their actions on themselves and others. Dead ringtones Where Fly would only be a glimmer of their potential without their excellent protagonists, but black rainbow has no interest in such things. Nyle and Elena remain archetypes throughout the runtime, with Cosmatos’ desire to retain them as metaphors for the film’s overall themes outweighing deep characterization. Likewise, while Kubrick’s films used clean camerawork to photograph equally clean environments, he did so with subtle images that avoided drawing attention to their own brilliance. In black rainbow cases, it’s impossible to avoid noticing the bold color palette that dominates each frame. This mindset applies to all of the influences, with Cosmatos tweaking them just enough so that they start to look like one of the Arboria Institute experiments. It’s a building isolated from the outside world, a time capsule of the 60’s mindset that has warped beyond recognition in the 20 years since… where better to place a film directed by someone who has spent 30 years reflecting on his influences.

But the most important piece of the equation comes with the last shot. Following her escape and Nyle’s subsequent death, the credits return to a now free Elena as she ventures into a vast and unknown world. But before Cosmatos calls the time, he includes a photo of a Sentionaut action figure in a brief post-credits stinger. What that means remains ambiguous, but given the importance of Cosmatos’ childhood in the creation of this film, such a simple image has the power to recontextualize everything. Cosmatos has spoken openly of his frequent visits to a video rental store during his youth, dreaming of the adventures beyond the VHS packaging he watched longingly for hours. black rainbow is his attempt to turn those fantasies into reality, and given that the film is set in the same year he first visited this store, it’s not inconceivable that the final shot is Cosmatos’ own bedroom, the rest of the film being the vivid imagination of an overexcited child. It would explain why the film is such a melting pot of different filmmakers, and also open the door to countless reinterpretations of the film’s narrative. Or maybe that’s a reductive way of looking at it. Like all good mysteries, the answer isn’t imminent – exactly what makes films like this so fascinating to discuss.

Beyond the Black Rainbow is not for everyone. Indeed, its idle pace and straightforward plot may prove too much for die-hard fans of ’80s-inspired art, but for those who live and breathe this glorious corner of cinema, it should be mandatory. Cosmatos’ total commitment to his vision allows him to create an utterly singular experience that always remembers to pay homage to his ancestors, and to refer to them in such pejorative terms as pastiche is patently unfair. The individual pieces may be familiar, but together they become something else entirely.

Panos Cosmatos’ psychedelic predecessor to Mandy – CNET – ApparelGeek