Genre: Animation, Thriller, Sci-Fi
Cast: Cindy Robinson, Yuri Lowenthal, Michael Forest
Synopsis: In this trippy sci-fi thriller a special device which allows users to invade the dreams of others has been stolen. It’s now down to the creators of the device to track down the thief before acts of ‘dream terrorism’ become out of control.
Those of you who are not familiar with the work of Satoshi Kon should know that his movies are not Disney, and they are not Studio Ghibli. His movies are not for kids. Satoshi Kon’s work often deals with very adult themes such as mental illness and sexual violence and he presents them in a way that is positively Hitchcockian. Paprika is no exception to this. It’s an extremely engaging cerebral thriller that is incredibly multi-layered. It begins quite light and fanciful but becomes progressively darker and more twisted as the audience is plunged into the dreams and psyche of some very disturbed individuals. In that sense, Satoshi Kon has masterfully created a movie experience that oscillates between dream, reality, and nightmare.
The dreamlike/nightmarish qualities of the movie are heightened by sumptuous animation and an atmospheric soundtrack that switches from upbeat and fun to creepy and threatening. This is almost a trademark of Satoshi Kon’s work: any of you who have seen Perfect Blue will probably remember the soundtrack as being one of the most unnerving ever. By far the most effective use of sound in Paprika occurs in a scene that takes place at an abandoned amusement park. An old abandoned amusement park is already a setting that’s likely to give you the creeps, but add in the sound of a giggling, whispering porcelain doll throughout and you’re probably about ready to shit yourself. The menacing porcelain dolls are only the start of this movie’s fucked-uppery. As more and more people begin to become enveloped in the dreamscape, the collective dream becomes more complex and more layered, with each layer revealing something unexpected and increasingly unsettling. What was manifested in the form of creepy dolls, moves on to narcissism and obsession, until it finally transforms into lust for power.
The complexity of the movie is ultimately one of its flaws. It can be quite difficult to understand at times and, in my notes, I actually wrote “are the characters speaking in riddles?” At one point, a character goes off the wall with an insane monologue and I had no idea it was happening until at least 20 seconds into it. As the movie progresses, however, you manage to get used to the craziness and will begin to understand what’s actually going on. The reward is worth the effort.
This is actually the second time I watched the movie. The first time I watched it I was sober. I understood the plot the first time around but I couldn’t always determine what was real and what was dream. After watching it whilst high, I felt as though I had improved my ability to spot the difference between the two worlds and I could therefore appreciate all the detail that went into the creation of this film. It allowed me to observe and understand exactly who were the key players and whose mind and psyche was being highlighted. As a general observation, I would suggest that if you really want to get the most out of this film then watch it twice. Once sober and once when you’re as high as Amanda Bynes whilst driving a car. That way, you’ll have a general understanding of the movie before you can delve into the nuances that make it such a special piece of cinema.
- Satoshi Kon is a master of manipulating your emotions and insecurities and this film, much like Perfect Blue, will definitely push your boundaries and allow you to experience something new and exciting.
- The film is visually stunning and contains many scenes that will make you think you’re tripping balls.
- This movie is Hitchcock on crack.
- It can be quite difficult to understand in places.
- If you get paranoia easily then this is not the movie for you…scary porcelain dolls will forever haunt your dreams.
This is a movie is a must-watch if you’re the sort of person who enjoys being intellectually stimulated whilst high. This movie is complex and challenging but pays off if you stick with it. Sativa strains would be more useful during this film as you’re going to need a strain that heightens your cognitive abilities and one that will encourage you to pay attention to details. Just remember that if you have kids, do not let them watch this with you: Totoro is not going to jump out and do some kind of happy magical dance. A more accurate image would be Totoro jumping out and dream raping you.