Beyond the Black Rainbow

Possibly the Weirdest Movie I’ve Ever Seen: Beyond the Black Rainbow

Beyond the Black Rainbow is currently streaming on Netflix. I suggest you watch it if you’re into completely trippy stories that you don’t really understand, haunting cinematography, cheesy sci-fi, and don’t mind slow-paced films. And I mean slooooow.

Although made in 2010, the movie takes place in the early 1980s and will take you back there, too, if you’re old enough to remember: you’ll feel like you’re watching some weird combo of Logan’s Run and Barbarella, with a little Solaris thrown in for good measure, all set to some 80s synth pop Tangerine Dream soundtrack. It’s the type of movie where you wouldn’t be surprised if Donald Pleasance showed up as the bad guy.

Netflix summarizes the film as follows: “When telepathic teen Elena flees the mysterious facility where she’s been imprisoned her entire life, her unbalanced therapist–enraged by her escape–relentlessly pursues her.” This is not an accurate plot summary. Let me rephrase: this is an accurate plot summary of the last fifteen minutes of the film. Most of the film focuses on Dr. Nyle, the creepy scientist who holds Elena captive. While the actor looks a bit like Christian Bale in American Psycho, he’s much more frightening: when he’s not grinning about someone else’s pain, he looks like he’s barely repressing a fury so intense it’s inhuman.


Nyle works for Arboria, a futuristic research facility, only futuristic in 80s fashion, where flashing lights, glowing cubes, and pulsing pyramids represent technological advances. Arboria was designed to bring people to a higher state of enlightenment (I think), but appears to have turned people into either psychopaths or addicts. Nyle’s path to enlightenment involved submerging himself in a circular pool of black goo, but apparently it didn’t take.

Anyway, I can’t honestly say I liked the film, but I couldn’t look away either. It contained some of the most haunting images I’ve seen in a long time, and that certainly made it worth the watch.

Did I mention it’s Canadian?

If you watch the film, let me know what you think.

P.S. I think the scariest images are Dr. Nyle after her removes his “appliances” and whatever it is that is under the helmet of the sentionaut that Elena encounters. What the?


5 thoughts on “Possibly the Weirdest Movie I’ve Ever Seen: Beyond the Black Rainbow

  1. I might actually search this out. It was the good measure of Solaris that intrigued me. Anything with a deranged guy named Nyle, Canadian sci-fi budgets, and slight hints of Tarkovsky sounds like perfect Sunday night fare to me. Might even be a good date movie.

  2. I concur with your hauntedness at the sentionaut’s face, and I think it’s easily the most unsettling image in the movie. It got my sci-fi nerd gears turning, and my best guess is that it is supposed to be a child which has been mutated/engineered and had its brain partly replaced with a computer, which makes the whole vague nature of Arboria even more tantalizingly dark.

    It is so Tarkovsky-esque, Brad. And, Karen, if you like the aesthetic feel of this movie, I recommend Gaspar Noe’s “Enter the Void.”

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