Neverending Story 

Getting Stoned with Enter the Void

ENTER THE VOID Like, whoa... deep.

ENTER THE VOID Like, whoa... deep.

PEOPLE GET ADDICTED to crack. Heroin, alcohol, meth, ecstasy, sure—but it's unusual to find someone claiming "junkie" status in regards to a psychedelic like DMT. Director Gaspar Noé (Irreversible) just might be one of these rare cases who, if not physically addicted, is so in love with the visual hallucinations and sense of mind-blowing wonder that psychedelics provide that he pays tribute in a nearly two-and-a-half-hour-long simulacrum of the circular epiphany familiar to anyone who ever ate a bitty piece of paper and thought Big Thoughts.

While you're tripping balls and thinking you've met God (possibly are God), you're usually just feeling exaggeratedly appreciative of familiar concepts like evaporation or nutrition. It inevitably comes back around to the cycle of life and/or spiral of significance—which, actually, could be an alternate title for Enter the Void. For its duration we are trapped, rather like a videogame, in the perspective of protagonist Oscar (Nathaniel Brown), first as a none-too-bright young American drug dealer in a fretfully skeevy part of Tokyo, and then as a spirit watching over his sister Linda (Paz De La Huerta) in the wake of his death at the hands of the police. For the entire runtime, you are Oscar, which means you're either high and/or dead.

It's a worrisome, nocturnal existence, be it in a claustrophobic, disordered, dingy apartment or a strip club where Oscar's mangy/sexy/damaged sister dances and bones the owner in her dressing room. Tokyo is rendered in dark, filthy clubs and immense corridors of neon where rooms of greasy, wan faces bathe under red gel lighting and twitchy club music pulses through the infrastructure. It's the creation of this relentlessly visual world that is Void's best achievement.

Which is good, because were it rendered in any less detail, the film would be unwatchable. It just doesn't have much else going for it: The acting is abysmal, and the "plot" (reincarnation à la The Tibetan Book of the Dead, as is explicitly articulated at least twice) only exists to provoke explicit sex scenes (including a triumphant money shot from inside the cervix), startling bloodshed, and nauseating humanity delivered in nervous, stuttered flashes of editing. (To many people, this will be a form of Hell.)

There have been many great psychedelic films (The Holy Mountain, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory—okay, maybe not that many), but Enter the Void isn't unexpected or smart enough to be one of them. It is, however, just what a stoned, horny dirt-bag ordered.

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