Dec 16, 2023

Divinity (Eddie Alcazar, 2023)

A strong contender for the most (insanely!) stylish pulp experiment of the year, Eddie Alcazar’s sophomore feature is a bold, dazzling, overwhelming assault on the viewer’s senses. Stunningly shot on 16mm B&W film, with deep shadows absorbing its flaws all the while emphasizing its esoteric qualities, ‘Divinity’ comes across like an intoxicating concoction of wildly varied influences, from the psychotronic sci-fi of the mid-20th century and Ray Harryhausen’s brand of stop-motion to disturbing body horror of David Cronenberg, fever dream-like surrealism of David Lynch and, unexpectedly, fighting games à la ‘Mortal Kombat’.

At once quaint and futuristic, it examines our unending search for immortality and tackles the ethical issues thereof, casting a satirical lens on the modern society obsessed with superficial beauty and hedonistic frenzy. Whimsical in its plotting, it invites a mysterious couple of cosmic siblings (Moises Arias and Jason Genao) to Earth, and pits them against a mad scientist with serious daddy issues, Jaxxon (Stephen Dorff), and his appropriately named brother Rip (Micheael O’Hearn), in and around a desert house that – similarly to the movie itself – exists in an unspecified space between the past and the future / twisted geometries of German expressionism and imposing grandeur of Brutalist architecture. The sinister mansion plays a significant role in establishing the sombre and chimeric atmosphere of human decadence, further enhanced by forebodingly hazy electronic soundscapes from DJ Muggs (of Cypress Hill fame) and Dean Hurley (who has previously collaborated with David Lynch and Chrysta Bell).

Unlike Alcazar’s ambitious, but ambiguously messy debut ‘Perfect’ excessively hampered by ad-and-music-video-like aesthetics, ‘Divinity’ actually benefits from its author’s background in commercials, with form and content / carnal and transcendental / articulate and ineffable being in a considerably improved balance. It blurs the boundary that separates the miraculous from the grotesque, and just for fun, subverts some Biblical themes as it pokes fun at New Age pretensions. The cult status is almost certainly guaranteed.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful review, Nikola! Makes me feel I want to see this.