I love when a film challenges convention, whether it be narrative structure or the technical aspects of the film-making process; even better when it's done with a purpose (though aimless unconventionality is fun too). TLMEA pushes full tilt in that regard, demanding your utmost attention (and multiple viewings) in order to allow for any kind of subjective analytical extraction.
The film follows two officers during a drug bust, in search of answers, as they slowly spiral down the various depths of hell (corresponding to the 9 levels of Dante's Inferno) - ultimately leaving them at the doorstep of an inescapable evil. Imagine if Nicholas Winding Refn ('Neon Demon' Refn, not 'Drive' Refn) shot and produced 2016's 'Baskin' and you'll start to get the idea. It sounds simple, but man, it really didn't feel that way while watching. The entire thing was littered with visual subtext, subliminal messaging, and some fast cuts (hiding narrative clues) that often times I found myself scrubbing back through scenes more than once in order to take everything in (sometimes pausing on a frame to ponder on the events leading up to it). And with each new level arrived at during the investigation forcing the officers to confront very dark truths, and battle even darker demons, the film kept me engaged throughout - and quite frankly, made me further and further unsettled as I took the horrifying trip with them.
TLMEA delivers this nightmare with the kind of high quality production dressings typically found in higher budget films, and thankfully so. It's expertly shot, cleverly lit, fueled by a trance-inducing soundtrack, and supported with top notch acting; all of it making the tortuous journey through hell, a lot easier to endure.
But only just so.
Kevin Kopacka weaves here a thought-provoking visually hypnotic tale that's as much a horror film about the sinful nature of mankind as it is an introspective abstract painting come to life, begging to be torn apart and analyzed. This film (and it's prequel 'HADES') have made me a fan of his work, so it'll be interesting to see what he tackles next; whatever that may be, I'm in regardless.
To get a taste for yourself the kind of nightmare feast you can expect from TLMEA, be sure to check out the aforementioned 'HADES' below, then share with us (and Kevin) your interpretation of the events: