The first scene of this movie opens on a creature that looks like one of the goblins from Troll 2 that’s been on a week-long bender of Creedence’s broth. He then proceeds to get his face unceremoniously bashed into a hole which then fills with lava from which springs forth a psychedelic tentacle monster. I would tell you this prepares you for what is to come, but let’s be honest, nothing short of a long stint in an asylum run by defrocked carnies is going to prepare you for Atmo HorroX. As much a fever dream as it is a film, it represents the fringes of experimental horror. A series of loosely-interlocking vignettes, Atmo HorroX represents a sort of Cremaster Cycle for degenerates, An Andalusian Dog covered in filth and lacking any sense of shame.
Through this assault on the senses, the viewer is challenged to separate meaningful reflections on the fetishization of nonsense from actual nonsense. While it is often a struggle here to discern meaning from madness, the film seems to explore themes of voyeurism and the breakdown of communication as a result of the noise of the information era. Perhaps the IMDB description can lend more insight as to what is going on behind the scenes:
“Through a surreal chase of spying, Catafuse, a dubiously dressed creature, hunts humans with the help of Molosstrap. But in a world ruled by the pharma industry, reality become so complex, that the mastering of insanity might just be the only way out.”
The film’s dialog is entirely nonsensical, ranging from mumbling to electronic screeches, so these characters are never named in the film, but from their descriptions it is clear whom they refer to. Catafuse is a man wearing a suit of pantyhose which seem to have developed strange growths and a girdle in addition to a codpiece fashioned with a a number of br
ightly-colored phallic balloons. He roams the world looking for victims chosen for him by Molosstrap. Molosstrap wears a similar outfit to Catafuse, but instead of this codpiece of many colors he has a belt of remote controls which he uses to monitor an array of jumbled old CRT TVs that look as though they’re all displaying scrambled porn. Once a victim is chosen, Catafuse stalks them and places a pair of high heel shoes he wears on his hands on their face causing them to be teleported out of existence leaving behind only a grilled breakfast sausage.
Films this far gone, this lacking in traditional structure, narrative, and characters can often feel like Rorschach tests, revealing just as much in their interpretation what the viewer wants or expects to see as what is actually there, and Atmo HorroX is no exception. I see this film’s significance largely as a response to modern media and communication. In this future meaninglessness, noise has so heavily permeated human society that it has spread from the insidious echo chambers of social media to our everyday interactions. The lines of communication have become deteriorated to the point where thoughts are conveyed only through shrieks and grumbles. Catafuse is a troll, a pathetic creature with an outward appearance of power in his vulgar display of sexuality, but with the fragile balloons representing his impotence to control himself or the world around him. Molosstrap is dominated by the noise, entirely dependent upon the cacophony of mindless entertainment he surrounds himself with for his sense of identity and well-being. As for the part about the high heels and the breakfast sausages, yeah, I’ve got nothing.
The references to big pharma were less readily apparent to me, but the state of healthcare is brought up to some degree. There is a vial of silver powder that appears to exist as a sort of commodity in this world that is shown to be both deadly and desirable, perhaps a reference to pharmaceutical addiction. One recurring segment features a doctor that furiously scribbles on a notepad before becoming dissatisfied with what he has written and throwing it away; all the while his patient looks on anxiously, eagerly awaiting his final decision and trying to establish some form of understanding of what is happening to them. This seems to represent the pressures of the healthcare system and big pharma, doctors pressured to continuously push new drugs and the patient’s struggles to survive in the crossfire. Themes of voyeurism and surveillance are pervasive as well, with competing groups of monsters and men looking to commoditize life, trading drugs for the ability to vicariously experience the lives of others through what looks like virtual reality technology. From a technical perspective it’s pure grunge. From the piss-stained film stock to the discordant Casio keyboard score, Atmo HorroX is as off-putting in its presentation as it is with its content. These elements come together to create an alien world that is familiar, but distorted and enveloped in a sense of constant dread.
Should you watch Atmo HorroX? No, probably not; at least not sober and not in a group. A clear mind will likely reject the chaos and this is not the sort of movie to get a bunch of friends over to laugh and have fun. It is a film to be enjoyed alone, ideally under a sheet to hide your sins from God. However, for those in the right state of mind and having indulged in the manner of their choosing, it offers a singular experience, an expression of a unique vision having no equal on this earth. I would hesitate to rank it among favorite films or among films at all. A hallucination put to film, Atmo HorroX exists on a continuum parallel to any rational reality, and for that reason I applaud the efforts of director Pat Tremblay. He has crafted an audiovisual parasite that has burrowed into my brain and laid eggs that whisper to me in the night and assure me that my slow descent into madness will be a pleasant one. Those that wish to go on this journey for themselves should keep an eye on the official website for news and release dates.