Imposing, ominous, inescapable. Panos Cosmatos's 2010 film Beyond the Black Rainbow traps its viewers in the same new-age, psycho-religious haze that its insanely creepy villain, Dr. Barry Nyle, traps its protagonist Elena in. The doctor is a man desperate for control, which he seeks through a combination of psychotherapy, new religion and experimental drugs at the Arboria Institute. There, control is synonymous with "enlightenment," something Elena has and Barry lacks — and he hates her for it, his rage barely contained beneath his plasticky skin.
Visually stunning and with an impressive soundtrack via Sinoia Caves, Beyond the Black Rainbow is a film with a truly unique style. Its story travels through its geometry, like the pyramid lurking deep in the Arboria Institute, its angles and colors radiate an oppressive energy, and its reflections serve as a constant reminder of Barry's, Elena's, and the Institute's split identities.
Beyond the Black Rainbow's dark psychedelia is the antithesis of the flower-child and the apotheosis of the cold war paranoiac, a scathing criticism of the cultural optimism of the baby boomer generation, and the pessimism that same optimism created — a nightmare born from a dream.