Shot in a mere 15 days, Climax is Gaspar Noé’s latest venture which combines dance and horror in a way you’ve never seen before. Surreal, overbearing, and at times a little self-indulgent, Climax follows a group of French dancers who gather at an abandoned school for a late night rehearsal. After finishing an elaborate routine in preparation for an upcoming competition, they all begin to celebrate by having a party and drinking sangria. As time goes on and tensions slowly boil, the dancers start to become more agitated and confused. It isn’t until one of the troupe claims that the sangria has been spiked that the joyous atmosphere soon descends into a nightmarish hellscape.
With a melting pot of diverse characters, Climax manages to focus on the numerous relationships within the dance group whilst also shining a light on the cultural divide between many of its members. Through a series of static shots, Noé is able to highlight these differences with many of the characters being interviewed in the film's introduction. Add to that scenes of idle gossip and we’re able to get a good sense of each character. Although these scenes can feel rather clunky, they’re intersected with exuberant dance sequences that pop from the screen and an electronic soundtrack that ties closely to the rhythm of the film.
Once the LSD has kicked in, we’re able to witness Gaspar Noé’s trademark camera work and that’s when the film really comes to life. An amalgamation of horror films from the past, Climax borrows heavily from Argento’s Suspiria and Zulawski’s Possession, so much so that there’s a heavy nod to Isabelle Adjani’s iconic subway scene midway through. References aside, Noé’s almost voyeuristic approach along with his appetite for the hallucinatory creates a visual style like no other. Whether it be the neon lights drenching the tight corridors, painting anyone who walks through, or the use of bold colours evoking a sense of sheer dread, Noé has created a multicoloured trip for the modern audience. Combined with a camera which swerves through the air, plummeting us into the thick of the action, there's truly no escape from the horror that unfolds.
The soundtrack manages to do a great job at heightening the overall atmosphere, and when played in tandem with the film it creates an almost hellish landscape that'll leave audiences' jaws wide open. An immersive experience which will stick in your mind long after the credits, Noé has lived up to his divisive nature and created a film that basks in an orgy of sex and violence.
Special features: Audio commentary with writer-director Gaspar Noe, An Antidote to the Void - a brand new interview with Gaspar Noe, Performing Climax - newly produced featurette comprising interviews with actors Kiddy smile, Romain Guillermic and Souheila Yacoub, Disco Infernal: The Sounds of Climax - Alan Jones, author of Saturday Night Forever: The Story of Disco and Discomania, offers up a track-by-track appreciation of the Climax soundtrack, Shaman of the Screen: The Films of Gaspar Noe - a brand new video essay by writer Alexandra Heller-Nicholas looking at Gaspar Noe’s evolution as a filmmaker.
CLIMAX / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: GASPAR NOÉ / STARRING: SOFIA BOUTELLA, ROMAIN GUILLERMIC, SOUHEILA YACOUB / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW