Nightmarish, disturbing and anxiety-inducing are just three of many ways to describe Climax. Thanks to its wholly original premise – a partying dance troupe discovers that their sangria is spiked with LSD – the film is entirely unpredictable and immersive.
With a brisk 96-minute runtime, there is not a dull moment to be found. An incredibly choreographed opening dance sequence (devised by the cast, which itself is composed of professional dancers) serves somewhat as a starkly ordered and planned contrast to the film’s insanity-filled third act. The former is followed by a brief second act that introduces certain characters and the film’s surroundings, all leading to a 42-minute, mostly improvised continuous shot that unflinchingly portrays the troupe’s descent into psychedelic madness. A number of previously set up character personalities and motivations lead to their chemically influenced selves to make harrowing decisions. The constant barrage of these emotionally pummelling events has its equal share of consequences and the sequence genuinely feels unending with nary a pause, in all the intended ways. The nightmarish events are further emphasised by the intentionally high colour contrast and unnatural camera movements, as well as an electronic soundtrack that propels the plot with continuous movement.
There is but one single flaw with the film. A character makes a completely illogical and nonsensical choice that seems to be purely done for shock value. While the film is meant to be shocking and unsettling by design, it all feels earned and logical apart from this instance that is so jarring it partially ruins the immersion. A possible unfortunate consequence of the improvisational nature of the film’s production, it bears mentioning, even if it is a minor moment. That aside, the film’s mostly non-actor cast all give totally convincing performances, and the quality of improvisation as well as cinematography during the long continuous take are genuinely stunning to behold.
Climax is an excellently made, anxiety-inducing film that can truly be considered a unique, lasting experience. It disturbs, horrifies and transports into its nightmare of a scenario and never lets its audience stop to take a breath.
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