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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Review: Upsteam Color

There seems to be a resurgence in the Sci-Fi film genre going on. I recently saw a great film that blew my mind called Upstream Color. Upstream Color is a vanguard film in the pseudo New Weird Sci-Fi scene along with Under the Skin, Enemy, Berberian Sound Studio, and Beyond the Black Rainbow. These sci-fi films follow a very abstract aesthetic and are more concerned with the inhuman, the alien, and the other than with the human. These films tend to leave a lot of viewers confused and disturbed. And they are meant to be, New Weird Sci-Fi is an attack on your preconceptions of reality and the body, buts its also an investigation into unknown waters, ideas being torn apart and reexamined. It is a welcome return to a kind of Ballardian soft Sci-Fi, more concerned with identity and biology then with space operas and computers. Upstream Color is a drama of parasites and mind controlled hosts. While it kind of drifts in time and space, I would not say this is a dream film, it’s more of a drug induced fugue. It has a kind of bleached out medicinal haze to it. There are characters in this film.. but they serve more as host organisms then as real relatable people. All these different characters make up the reproductive cycle of the parasitic worm. A man referred to as the Thief collects the worms and forces them into people either by trickery or force. The worm has a hypnotic effect on its host which also makes them extremely susceptible to influence. Then the Thief takes advantage of this by robbing his victims of every last dollar they have. Then a man referred to as the Sampler draws the worms host to him and surgically removes the worm from the host's body and places it into one of his pigs at his pig farm. At that point the former host and the new pig host share a psychic connection. The former host also is now plagued with hallucinations and a feeling of alienation from reality. The story follows one woman as she goes through this process and tries to figure out what happened to her. But it's a discovery that can never happen, she is so irrevocably altered by these events that there is no going back to normalcy, she is both damaged and saved, and she finds her own kind of happy ending within the films reality. Reading this description I would imagine that the film sounds extremely ambiguous and surreal. It is. And it's also one of the best films of the 21 century. Highly recommended for adventurous film goers.

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