Climax is the latest film from infamous French provocateur Gaspar Noé. The story follows a group of urban dancers at a strangely secluded party, as they dance, drink, and eventually devolve into rabid lunatics due to sangria spiked with LSD. While the concept may not sound particularly intriguing, especially to someone who, like me, despises dancing and partying, Climax is a visually arresting gut-punch and the scariest film I’ve seen in a long time.
The film amalgamates previous topics that Noé has explored, such as violence, sex, death, and drugs, and infuses them to create a terrifying nightmare with surprising cohesion. Unlike his prior films such as the erotic Love, or the stunning yet long Enter The Void, Climax feels incredibly tight and immediate, somewhat restrained—for the better. The mesmerizing cinematography dreamily glides through long, sprawling sequences, often dizzyingly flipping sideways and upside down, lulling us into the film’s sensory onslaught. The soundtrack is excellent and surprisingly diverse, propelling the film along on its nightmarish odyssey. Narratively, it is less concerned with dance and more interested in pushing the boundaries of intensity, challenging the audience, drawing on horror films such as Dario Argento’s Suspiria, and Andrzej Żuławski’s Possession, as obvious stylistic influences.
While it is undoubtedly not for the fainthearted, Climax is a 90-minute bad trip, a harrowing freak-out on acid, that grabs you by the throat and constantly tightens its grip. It is also hands down the best film I’ve seen all year and, perhaps, Noé’s best work to date.