Watching this is basically watching a bad trip unfold. And if you did decide to trip and watch this, it would probably melt your brain and drive you to soul-crushing Lovecraftian insanity forever, or something.
I saw this in theaters as part of the Brattle Theater's 'Alice in Wonderland' themed weird movie cluster, and it is, in a way, kind of fitting...the essential plot of the film, if it can accurately be described as having one, is that a telepathic girl named Elena attempts to escape from her captivity in a New Age research facility, the Arboria Institute. The institute was founded by Elena’s father, Dr. Arboria, but is now run by his protege Barry Nyle. Nyle’s a cold, calculating, abusive creep who keeps Elena prisoner in this sprawling complex and inhibits her natural psychic abilities using a glowing prism and lots of sedatives.
Nyle himself, like Elena, is apparently what happens when you dip live humans into liquid vats of angel dust. Driven to the brink by psychedelic demonic visions and summarily losing all hair, iris color, etc, Nyle transforms himself into something resembling Steve Jobs with the use of prosthetics. His complete, cool detachment from reality and morality drives him to (hopefully unbeknownst to Dr. Arboria?) keep Elena confined among the other failed 'projects' at the facility, all of which are pretty disturbing. After exploring the facility and the horrors contained within, Elena does escape and the struggle to free herself from Nyle results in the most anti-climatic face off ever.
It’s an incredibly slow and hypnotic movie that is driven almost entirely by stimulating visuals, trippy colors, and endless, endless synthesizers. It’s very ambient and probably cool (and scary) to watch after smoking a joint, but there’s not much of substance beneath the stylistic veneer.
Though I will give it props; the ambience really, really draws you into the world of the film. The flashback scene where Nyle is dipped into the vat of 'consciousness awakening' tar is so intense and horrifying that I actually left for a few minutes. I'm a seasoned psychedelic user and I’m thankful that in my several illegal mind adventures I’ve never had to deal with an actual bad trip. Because if that’s what it’s like, then Jesus fucking Christ.