The Other Side of the Underneath

The Other Side of the Underneath ★★★★★

This is quite possibly the most harrowing and uncomfortable film I've ever watched, it is a nightmare you can't escape, documentary-like at times and surreal, experimental, and poetic at others. The documentary-like part depicts reality, a group of mentally ill women who gather for a group session with their therapist, we see them scream and go through several breakdowns, the sound design and score are key here since they make us feel like the characters with those sounds and that music we hear and makes us want to escape from this hellish nightmare which is the reality of the condition of these women. During these moments Arden often cuts to long sequences plagued with wide-lens shots that puts us inside the mind of the characters, we see what I believe are some traumatic experiences they've gone through and/or the distorted views of reality they have translated as ambiguous imagery that goes beyond the understanding of any person who isn't the one seeing these images and can only lead any external viewer to assumptions of what these images could mean. I have never suffered from any mental illness nor do I have any close friends or relatives who have been through something similar so I don't think I'm qualified to analyze any of the conditions the characters of this film have, since, as I already stated, all I could give are assumptions, and maybe without even realizing those assumptions could be insensitive with mentally ill people.

So I'll just limit myself to talking about the technical aspects and giving some of my interpretations of the poetic imagery Arden creates.

The aspect ratio is key here because it creates a claustrophobic sensation in the viewer which is beyond effective; I wanted to run and hide while watching this, but the film also has a level of sensibility and dare I say humanist nature that kept me stuck to the screen and raised awareness in me about schizophrenic people and made me understand a bit more how people in this condition feel.

The cinematography, besides the aspect ratio, is also great, the visuals look grainy when Arden focuses on reality in a documentary-like style and adds tons of realism which is enhanced by the great performances of the entire cast. The surreal imagery is equally stunning, haunting, horrifying, and devastating, this is one of the scariest films I've ever seen, I am starting to notice that the scariest horror films are those that explore the human mind and its darkest corners, and this film right here perfectly fits that category.

So as for interpretations, I feel these are oppressed and assaulted women who have been alienated from reality by the sexist society they live in, the characters often give us through dialogue glimpses of what might have been physical, psychological, or sexual assaults they've been through and that may have put them in their current condition, the imagery and some of the flashbacks we see kinda confirm this interpretation I have but to be honest any interpretation of this film could be right or wrong, anything goes here.

Spiritual imagery is present here too and even some meta parts that go beyond my understanding, whenever I feel brave enough to revisit this film I'll come back to it to see the new perceptions it may create on me, truly an amazing and staggering work that I'm glad I found because this is one of the most unique films I've ever seen. Nothing could have prepared me for this and I'm glad nothing did because this was an experience that goes beyond description


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