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East End Film Festival Review: Dermaphoria

By on 04/09/2014

It was Jason Silva who said in his Shots of Awe series that cinema is a “storyland where we loose ourselves and find ourselves and its films like Dermaphoria that are examples of this “dream sharing technology”.

I didn’t know anything about the movie or its director before watching and sometimes it’s the best way to experience a film. I caught it as the opener of the East End Film Festival, which in my opinion is one of London’s best film festivals and highly underrated

Dermaphoria is a dreamscape rather than an A to B narrative

“Popular movies” have changed somewhat in recent years – they are no longer being seen as an A to B narrative, but are dreamscapes of feelings emotions & ideas that function as much to give you an experience than a story with a linear beginning, middle and end. Films like Enter The Void, Upstream Color and Dermaphoria are examples of this form of the art.


The Story

Based on a book of the same name Dermaphoria tells the story of Eric who wakes up in hospital with no memory of recent events and is accused of arson of a suspected drugs laboratory, but only remembers the name Desiree. What results is an amazingly shot hallucinogenic journey as he tries to pull all the pieces of the previous few weeks back together, find Desiree and work out exactly why the police and the criminal underwork are after him. The past, present and hallucination end up melting into one in a beautiful fashion

The film is an unfolding experience of scenes and emotions as opposed to a straight story. Boundaries of norms are bent as Eric attempts to put the pieces back together.

New Orleans serves greatly as the back drop to this thriller adding much to the atmosphere as a character in the movie much in the same way as the New Orleans based films such as Angel Heart and Port of Call New Orleans. The film is also carried along nicely by a great extended cameo from the mighty Ron Perlman.

ron perlmanDon’t expect any easy answers to the exact meanings of the narrative. Ron Perlman was at the cinema for a Q&A and stated that if you discover what the film was exactly about then you should let him know. An exact understanding of the film isn’t important, what is important is the journey like experience it takes you on.

By Tendai