REVIEW: ‘The Forbidden Room’ a stylish, absurdist trip through early film

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Start to finish, Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson’s “The Forbidden Room” tries to do more in technique and experimentation than a casual film watcher may witness in a lifetime.

A still image from director Guy Maddin’s “The Forbidden Room.” Courtesy Kino LorberThat’s the key selling point of the film, as well as the main obstacle in attempting to even begin describing the bizarrely stylized parody of 1920s-era cinema.

There are loose threads of story and characters that connect the film’s vignettes, but they’re utterly beside the point. Whether examining the lives of crew members on a doomed submarine or an amnesiac flower girl falling in with the inhabitants of a tropical village at the base of a volcano, the substance takes a far-away backseat to the style.

Using video morphs, super-saturated technicolor-esque effects and an array of silent-era on-screen texts, “The Forbidden Room” is something of an absinthe-soaked grindhouse nightmare whose humor is far more “Adult Swim” than your average arthouse flick.

Maddin regular Louis Negin plays a variety of roles, including the host of an informational video on (of all things) the benefits of bathing, and Udo Kier has a handful of numerous memorable appearances, including one as a man whose obsession with rear ends serves as inspiration of one of 2015’s most bizarre musical interludes, “The Final Derriere.”

Bewildering and mesmerizing, “The Forbidden Room” is the film most likely to leave you wondering “what the hell did I just watch?” as you exit the theater this year.

“The Forbidden Room” is unrated. Two hours, 10 minutes. Three stars out of five. Opens Friday at the Sie FilmCenter.