Atmo Horrox (Revelation Perth International Film Festival)
Laurent LeCompte, Roch Desrosiers
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One of the great delights of attending a film festival is the opportunity to expose yourself to screen art that would otherwise have never crossed your field of vision – to dip into the outre and bizarre, to test yourself against visions far outside the norms of mainstream commercial filmmaking. It’s a rush, it’s an edifying experience, and it’s a reminder that film is not constrained by what finds its way into the multiplexes – it’s a broad church.
Broad enough, indeed, to contain Atmo Horrox, the latest offering from Canadian filmmaker, Pat Tremblay. Atmo Horrox is a true oddity; a surreal, grotesque journey into an alien and abominable world where possibly inhuman figures stalk their victims through a garish landscape while we, the audience, are left to our own devices to puzzle out the meaning of what we’re seeing on screen.
And there is a meaning; like Shane Carruth’s Upstream Colour, it’s an unconventional narrative that takes time and attention to parse. Catafuse (Laurent LeCompte), a bizarre figure dressed in stockings and balloons, hunts human targets, eliminating them by clopping a pair of ladies shoes on their heads. He is aided by Molosstrap (Roch Desrosiers, who feeds him information about his impending victims (presumably – all dialogue is unintelligible and we’re forced to gauge the meter of the conversations by other cues. As the film progresses, events grow more disturbing and unreal, culminating in…
Well, that would be telling. Atmo Horrox is clearly a low budget effort, held together with ingenuity and ambition rather than money, but its very cheapness allows it to do things and go places a more professional-looking film could not. Tremblay delights in transfiguring everyday objects and elements into something ominous and monstrous, combining disparate aesthetic pieces to create something fascinatingly ugly. That might be a good shorthand for the entire film, in fact.
In spite of its surface-level gruesomeness, Atmo Horrox demonstrates an excellent command of the visual language of cinema, and it demands the same from its audience. This is not a film to be treated lightly – you’ll need to bring your A game just to figure out what the hell is going on. If you’re willing to meet it on its level though, Atmo Horrox will shock and surprise you – something your more jaded stripe of cineaste should welcome.