That the first trailer for Gaspar Noé's Cannes Film Festival hit Climax is set to the chugging French Disco beats of Cerrone's spooky classic "Supernature" is sort of a no brainer. The dance floor classic's cryptically spooky lyrics like, "there's no place that you can run, the monsters made, we must pray" creep you out even as the chunky baseline commands you to dance. Climax, after all, is at once both a dance movie, a drug movie, and a good old horror film, and it's absolutely rattling the Cannes Film Festival.
The Argentinian director took his inspiration from an urban legend about a New York City dance troupe whose afterparty punch bowl had been spiked with LSD and they all devolved into a troupe-wide freakout. In Climax, Noé transports the setting from New York City to a facility on the edge of a forest; the afterparty is replaced with a planned three day rehearsal; and the punch bowl, chicly, has been upgraded to sangria. The ensuing troupe-wide freakout, however, remains.
The film stars Sofia Boutella, the former Rihanna and Madonna backup dancer whose planned mainstream star turn alongside Tom Cruise in last year's The Mummy was something of a bust, but is quickly making a name for herself as a star of stylish indie fare (she also appeared alongside Charlize Theron in last year's arthouse-informed spy thriller Atomic Blonde). She plays the group's leader, but according to the first reviews plot and character aren't of as much importance as the interplay between actual dance numbers and psychotic freak outs.
In the trailer alone, we already see freak outs, bloody hands, a knife fight, a first fight, a fire fight, someone climbing through snow a lot, and other upsetting sites. On the other hand, we also see DJ Daddy, who, at least, seems like he's having a good time with his wig.
To give you a more exact idea, multiple American critics compared the film to a mix of the feel good Step Up series that brought us Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan and their unsettlingly creepy arthouse film of choice.
Another compared it to The Shining and vogue documentary Paris is Burning.
Noé is no stranger to stylish provocations at Cannes. Love, his last film to premiere at the festival, featured actual sex scenes shot in 3D. That film may have been critically drubbed, but Climax is already getting praise.
"It might be his best movie," says IndieWire. "It’s certainly the best snapshot of a talented filmmaker committed to f---ing with your head."
"Noé is giving us a cinema of sensual outrageousness and excess that makes other films look middleaged and tame," writes The Guardian.
Variety, meanwhile, assures that amidst all the drugs and debauchers the dancing will certainly hold up even for dance snobs: "It may be one of the most enthralling dance sequences you’ve ever seen. I don’t quite know how to describe what it is these dancers do, but they’re like krumpers or wackers or voguers doing flex dancing at astonishingly fluid speeds, so that their arms seem to be stretching out of their joints and rolling over their torsos. No one pose is held for more than a split second; they’re like living Cubist paintings."
The Telegraph assured lovers of startling shock value that they won't be go away empty handed either: "Graphic self-mutilation and orgiastic sex ensue, all captured in the director’s trademark undulating camera moves, punctuated by title cards which offer mottos such as 'death is a unique opportunity', and set to a throbbing backing track of vintage techno, house and electronic music."
Of course, every good dance movie needs good dance music, and that appears to be true here. Afterall, Daft Punk member Thomas Bangalter has even contributed a new song to the film. It's called "Sangria," which, again, is a much more elegant name than "Punk Bowl."
There's a Rolling Stones track as well, but the rest of the soundtrack is filled with a solid list of underground dance club greatest hits that includes contributions from everyone from Aphex Twin (another master of melding dance music with a general vibe of creepiness) to Lil Louis.
A24 has already picked up rights to distribute the film in America.