I love Climax. But I’ll never watch it again.
Climax received the highest praise a horror movie can get: that it was a ride so unnerving and unenjoyable that just one viewing was sufficient. It struck a nerve for me, but why was it so effective in its horror? Here’s a (spoiler free) run-down of what I noticed:
Dance in Climax: The Fall of a Community
In a 2019 interview, director Gaspar Noé said the movie is “the story of how a community can build something and then, for induced reasons or internal reasons, destroy itself and its own creation.”
During my first viewing, I was mesmerized by the dancing in the movie. The first dance scene in particular caught my attention, but it wasn’t until the second time watching that I realized how long it was.
The fact that there was so much community and togetherness juxtaposed with such inhumane and detrimental acts was incredibly jarring for me.
It all felt like Lord of the Flies on acid… literally.
We Relate to the Characters
Lots of psychological thrillers take the time to focus on their characters, and use their development and motivation to drive the thrills. Once we put ourselves into the characters, the psychological aspect of the films are more effective.
Other favorites of mine Killing of a Sacred Deer and The Double focus heavily on their characters, to the point where they’re basically character studies. Except in these cases, the characters are placed in thrilling, supernatural settings.
I liked how the opening of Climax was an extended look at the dancers’ demo tapes, allowing us to get to know them before the chaos ensued. The whole film was these characters’ descent into madness, and the end result is truly horrific because we were able to identify with them here.
(Also, the amount of horror shout outs and easter eggs below the television was an appreciated touch!)
The Cinematography in Climax is Intense
Claustrophobia (fear of confined spaces) is one of the many phobias horror movies play on to make the audience uneasy.
Climax takes it a step further, though, adding in dizzying upside down shots and intense lighting to make the audience feel even more trapped not only within the physical space, but the characters’ mental states as well.
We really get to understand a small slice of what the characters are experiencing during their bad trips. For me, that one slice was more than a decent helping.
Phew. This movie was more of an experience than a viewing for me, so effective in what it set out to accomplish that I don’t need to watch it again.
Have you seen Climax? Let us know if you found it as disturbing as I did!