Enter the Void

An Abyss of Hate and Lights!


Starring: Nathaniel Brown, Paz de la Huerta

By Robert Patrick

Bulbs are popping and lights are flickering. Fluttering waves of neon-images start cascading down the screen. What am I watching, should I be amused? More blotchy shapes emerge, head butting each other, then wafting into nothingness. It’s pretty clear at this point that “Enter the Void” is an art-house Lite Brite. The storyline is an afterthought, existing only to usher the grotesque imagery ahead, like a perverse ox-driver. You’re in the theater, at the behest of the director, to watch a phantasmagoria of strip-club-marquees and smoky crack pipes. The plot involves a brother and a sister, each battling demons of their past, while, in the present, grappling with a myriad of addictions. It’s a sad little fable, hit over the head with a gamy mallet that reeks of indulgence. And because the movie is set in Tokyo, false illumination blips and skirts about, manipulated by Gaspar Noe’s bombastic presentation. There is more pretentious bloodletting in this film than a Greenwich Village coffee house.

Some critics have gone batty over the technical aspects of the movie. That’s fine. But, in my eyes, “Enter the Void” looks like a portrait of Salvador Dali with glowsticks tucked into his hair. Noe’s film is an exercise in patience, with no real reason to exist, other than assailing its viewers with elongated sequences of white light engulfing the screen for moments on end – and that’s the least exasperating thing in the movie. Want to watch incestuous behavior, slathered over each frame of the film, while a tinny-score rattles in the background? Not likely. There is also a sequence in the film where a baby is aborted, in graphic detail, while the camera zooms in to magnify the gelatinous remains.

This film is misanthropic.

I suppose the viewing of this film, for masochists, is the cat’s pajamas. The technical devices employed in this movie are about as pleasant as waterboarding, which is the best pull-quote you’re going to cull from this critic’s fingers. The acting, also, is quite unpleasant. You get the feeling that these actors were apprentice to a cellar door before they got the part in this picture. Yes, “Enter the Void” makes Michael Haneke’s films look like crowd-pleasers. In director Noe’s last film, he had an eight-minute rape scene. This time around, it’s an interactive experience, with the crowd being defiled for an entire two-hours. I suppose this mask of existentialism is supposed to grant “Enter the Void” a free pass for some moviegoers. Really, the experience, one of monotonous plasticity, is about as enlightening as a pitch black room.

There is one scene in the film, near the beginning, where the lead character smokes crack. We see what he sees – colors unfolding like neon-slinkies – for minutes-upon-minutes. Have you ever seen a Windows 95 screensaver? Cool, then you have seen what this drug influenced trip looks like. All that this movie is, in its vapid and morose structure, is a disposable film, contrived and without humility, that would better be left in the now defunct right hemisphere of Noe’s brain. In the end of the film, every character stays the same, failing to transmute. And no matter how many awful things happen to them, there is no way to pair empathy with the tragic events, because we, the audience, have undoubtedly endured much worse.

I have seen a lot of horrible films in my life. This, however, is the worst film I have ever been witness to (please, don’t watch this movie out of morbid curiosity). Sitting in front of this film, waiting for it to finish, is like waiting for a pendulum to eviscerate you – the outcome is macabre and unsavory. But, hey, you’re not bound to a table, so you can make an escape now.


Author: Rob Patrick

The program director of the Olympia Film Society, Rob is also a former San Diego Film Critics Society member. He has written for The East County Californian, The Alpine Sun, The East County Herald, The San Diego Entertainer, and the San Diego Reader. When he isn't curating a film festival, he is drinking rosé out of a plastic cup in Seattle or getting tattoos from Jenn Champion.

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