Comic Review: Sensory Distortion / Writer: Jesse Grillo / Art: David Brame / Publisher: Bleeding Ink Comics / Release Date: Out Now
Sensory Distortion, by Bleeding Ink Productions, tells the suitably macabre tale of drugs exploration gone horribly, horribly wrong. While taking a college break in Mexico, a group of students are forced to destroy their stash when pulled over by a traffic cop. Desperate for a euphoric high, they purchase the Indian rite-of-passage drug, Tolache, and trip the light fantastic, baby... or, um, something like that.
After a fun-filled night of intense visuals, emotional highs (and plenty of sex) the students return - none the wiser, although perhaps bow-legged - to college campus and get on with their lives. Little do they realise that Tolache isn’t your run-of-the-mill hallucinogen. Tolache is in fact a spiritual weed and opens doors, in their minds, to their greatest fears - fears that simply won’t fade after a day’s bed rest and a savage attack of the munchies. The Tolache won’t be satisfied until the students either face those fears or die. Y’know, whichever comes first.
Allegedly optioned as an award-winning film script, Sensory Distortion did the rounds before languishing in developmental hell, and ultimately, Jesse Grillo (writer and creator) transformed the script into a graphic novel for our sadistic pleasures.
Hollywood’s loss, our gain.
For the most part the characters of Sensory Distortion are well-rounded and engaging. They move beyond their simple college kids sketch. The forces of antagonism steadily build for a gore-soaked climax which is rewarding within the context of the story. David Brame’s art is solid and up for the task of creating a psychedelic gore-fest. Also Heather Breckel’s colours deserve a mention when the characters go native and the devil weed takes hold.
Sensory Distortion’s premise ultimately feels constrained and the twin themes (drugs are bad, and face your fears to succeed in life) a little too on the nose. It never really explains what the Tolache is: a simple drug or gateway to something more? By the time we get to the character’s deaths the story isn’t offering anything terribly new, and mimics the themes of Final Destination or a hundred other teen slasher flicks. That’s not to say it’s a bad story, far from it. Sensory Distortion conjures a sense of mounting dread, really delivers on the horror when the mood calls and remains a worthy edition to the genre as a whole.