This is one extremely bizarre, brilliant, awful, weird watch. I found moments of this film so difficult to sit through that I actually had to stop and come back to it some time later, not because of its haunting content, but because it was actually painful on my eyes.
A young American drug addict living in Tokyo is murdered and his ghost returns to watch over his sister.
Initially set from first person point of view we are the young man – complete with blinking eyes, a couple of significant drug induced trips, and his thought process. We also experience his murder first hand. We then become the spirit/ghost who spies upon his sister (an erotic dancer/prostitute) and the pieces of his life come together with a powerful and disturbing sequence of flashbacks.
It is uncomfortable viewing, but it is also quite astonishing. I’ve not seen anything like this before.
Some of it feels too much like experimental filmmaking with director Gaspar Noe literally throwing every visual trick he can think of at it. There is an awful lot achieved with painful lighting and smoggy blurred focus, which are frankly frustrating. The plusses centre on the freedom he gives the ‘floating’ camera. Tokyo looks like a neon kingdom with ultraviolet corners, a fantastical perverts playground only ever witnessed at night.
Throughout this film you are contradicted, you applaud what is being done, but don’t particularly enjoy the process of watching it. Gaspar Noe is no stranger to controversial filmmaking with his 2002 shocker Irreversible one of the most disturbing sexually violent films ever made.
Enter The Void is a dark and twisted story of drugs, broken families, prostitution, incestuous longing, and murder. Sometimes effects are dwelt upon for just too long, particularly the trippy psychedelic moments that are initially impressive, but quickly become dull. The title sequence alone is enough to put plenty of viewers off; I came very close to walking away.
Having never done a trip myself I can’t attest to the accuracy of the film’s depiction of the drug-induced sequences, but as a clear-headed viewer, it certainly took me off in a direction I was not predicting.
It is seedy and twisted, with some deranged themes and plenty of uncomfortable tangents. For all the exciting visual delights that we are bombarded with, it also has moments that are relentlessly dull, poorly acted and feels a little like the director is obsessed with shocking rather than engrossing and entertaining.
A confusing and haunting film that I expect by now you assume I will cast down on as not worth it. But the fact is that Enter The Void is a nightmare, something we all dread but all experience. Nightmares take us to terrible places, but we survive them, learn from them, sometimes even enjoy moments of them. Above all, they stay with us.
You may not make it through the whole of Enter The Void, but if you do it is sure to stay with you. It is horrible, frustrating, self-indulgent at times, but it is also strangely compelling, has moments of visual delight and the freedom Noe gives the camera is dreamlike and at times beautiful.
An often bad-trip, but it’ll stay with you and you may just learn something.