Monday, October 8, 2012

Head Games: "Psychotropica" (2009)



Aside from a few kinks here and there, "Psychotropica" is a two by four upside the head of low budget film making.

Damien Sage plays a man only identified as Patient 622B, who is being held in some sort of mental prison. He goes to a Doctor (Maximillian Magick) and must relay his dreams (or are they his memories?) to the point of ad nauseum, while the jaded Doctor insults the Patient.

In these dreams, the Patient retells incidents involving his son, his lover, and a Brother (Braden West) and Sister (Tiffany Titmouse). The visions are violent, confusing, and do not make a lot of sense, until the Patient finally explains (literally) what he has figured out about his past, and was has brought him to this point in his life.

"Psychotropica" is a hard film to just sum up in a couple of pitch sentences. First of all, it is rotoscoped, a form of animation where live action footage is treated to look like drawings ("Waking Life"...some of Ralph Bakshi's stuff...those pointless Charles Schwab ads from a while back), yet it is done with video effects that give the picture a great look. Sage directed the film as well, from a script by Sergio Mauroforte, and plays with the viewer's mind with kaleidoscopic images and unreal color schemes.

The dream sequences have little if any dialogue, letting the viewer absorb the imagery. It is not our job to sort out what is going on and propel the plot forward, instead, we are seeing what is going on inside the Patient's head and become mere observers. Sage is chameleon-like on screen, changing his appearance with little things like eyeglasses, a haircut, and facial hair.

Rip/Torn performs the songs written and produced by Aeryn Suin, and the soundtrack kicks ass. Industrial, Goth, and even trance fans will pump along to the score that never seems to take a breath, and adds to the trippy visuals and futuristic setting. The blinding colors, unmitigated violence, and one of the most unforgettable sex scenes I have ever seen shows other low budget film makers what can be done with a little money and a lot of ingenuity. Sage and his cast almost get overpowered by the visual candy, but they still interested me enough to care about where they were going with all this.

I do wish some of the editing had been tighter, and the patient's monologue near the hyperextended conclusion keeps this from being a perfect film, but I still liked it none the less.

"Psychotropica" is bold and impressive, and I cannot wait to see what spills out of these people's collective heads next...metaphorically, of course. (* * * *) out of five stars. Watch this movie now!: Psychotropica