10 August 2016 | gavin6942
Is This Real Life?
In a desolate community full of drug-addled Marines and rumors of kidnapping, a wild-eyed stoner named Lou (Natasha Lyonne) wakes up after a wild night of partying with symptoms of a strange illness and recurring visions as she struggles to get a grip on reality while stories of conspiracy spread.
The film seems to begin with a kernel of truth: that drug use can be terrifying. While I have no personal experience as far as that goes, we are all familiar with the idea of a "bad trip". One could say that what happens to Lou is the worst kind. Although not directly connected to her, we also see the dark edges of drug use, which can lead to addiction, or even to prostitution. Is that aspect "horror"? No. But it is certainly scary in its own way.
Leading the film are two great actresses: Natasha Lyonne (ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK), assisted by Chloe Sevigny (AMERICAN HORROR STORY). Lyonne has mastered the trashy woman act (and unlike the caricature rednecks of Rob Zombie's world, this story is grounded in reality). Films with such protagonists do a dangerous balancing act. We feel obligated to have sympathy on Lou (she is our humble narrator), but in many ways we cannot help but feel she brought this on herself.
One review summarized the film as "really, really weird". Now, I happen to disagree. Sure, we have talk of aliens, and some impressive creature effects in third act. We have a bizarre pregnancy, and some hallucinations. But it still has a coherence that keeps it very real. This is not David Lynch's "Eraserhead". You aren't left with endless questions.
Writer-director Danny Perez (ODDSAC) has crafted a smart horror-drama, with a big pinch of science fiction thrown in. He has created not only a solid film, but another world. If he happens to return to this snowy wasteland, I suspect there are more stories for him to tell.