If you don’t know the name Eva Allan, you soon will. As the captive obsession of a crazed madman in the brilliant new flick "Beyond the Black Rainbow," (out June 21 from Magnet Releasing) Allan stunningly projects a wide range of emotions via her captivating character. From paralyzing fear to tortured sadness – all without saying a word. The five-star film is a strange, wondrous and totally mesmerizing cult picture that is the feature debut of Director Panos Cosmatos (yes, son of "Rambo: First Blood Part II," "Cobra" and "Leviathan" Director George P. Cosmatos!) and is totally on par with early works of filmmakers like David Cronenberg and Dario Argento. (Meaning lots of strange symbolism, bright colors and creepy characters galore!) We’re celebrating the original must-see genius of "Beyond the Black Rainbow" with not only a review of the film (it’s in serious contention for my top ten list for 2012!), but a candid chat with the lovely Eva Allan, the one person who is ironically mum through most of the movie. To get Allan’s take is a must, so we sought her out in a one-on-one chat all about her innocent and tortured character, her thoughts on the films various oddities and the skinny on both Cosmatos and her co-star in one unsettling performance Michael Rogers. (His work will shake you!) Head’s up, there’s a talented new actress on the way! Introducing...
I read you were pursuing becoming a dental assistant and then decided to go back to acting – what made you come back to the craft?
Eva Allan: What happened was in high school I did drama a lot and I was really into it, but there’s a stigma attached to it. You say you want to be an actor and most people are like, ‘That’s nice’, you know? (Laughs) So I always knew I was passionate about acting, but unfortunately there’s a one percent that you’re going to actually make money off it. But I had this internal urge to be creative again. It was funny, I remember being in a room watching trailers for upcoming films and I had watched this Woody Allen trailer and just became emotional. (Laughs) So I realized I really needed to go back to acting and pursue it again.
When you got the script for "Beyond the Black Rainbow" what were your initial thoughts?
EA: I remember reading it before I did the first audition and right away I thought this sounds so cool. The intro was a description of the credits coming up and the eyes and irises and I could see the imagery really clearly. But when I got into it I knew it was going to be really difficult for me to do because you’re not able to speak.
Were you at all concerned that Elena had virtually no dialogue throughout the film?
EA: Most people think it’s easier for emotions to come up if you’re speaking, so I had to work on that a lot. The most difficult thing was keeping my energy alive because it’s really exhausting having to express emotions twenty-four seven, eighteen hours a day. That was the one thing I was constantly focusing on – really knowing what my moments before were and working on the script and breaking it down moment to moment.
What kind of director is Panos on-set and was the film as odd to make as it is to watch?
EA: It was totally normal. Panos and I didn’t really talk about the film too much when we were on set. He just trusted me and we understood each other and what we needed from each other. We had a really good working relationship, but he really asked me more what I thought and if he had something to add on to that I’d always take it into consideration as well. The film felt like a community – we all worked together. That’s why I like working on independent films because it feels like family. But he’s amazing – not a weirdo at all! He kind of has some strange thoughts in his head, but it seemed to work out. (Laughs)
Panos’s father was a famous 80’s director of flicks like "Rambo: First Blood Part II" and "Cobra" – were you familiar with his work when you took this one on?
EA: I didn’t even know! I was in the final audition and one of the casting directing assistants was like, ‘Do you know who his father is?’ I had absolutely no idea before that.
Had you worked up any past stuff on your character prior to the events in the film?
EA: There was a lot of stuff I did in preparation. I think most of it was definitely doing the background on Elena and how messed up her life was. It’s not necessarily something she had control of at the time when she was that young. And I did a lot of things when I was auditioning, but I did take some things from my own personal experience and meshed that in as well. There were a lot of tools I had to take out of box to work with it. I don’t know if I’ll ever do something like that again, but it was cool.
What are your explanations and thoughts behind some of the oddities within the flick including your characters mind abilities and the films stark color schemes?
EA: I think it’s mostly to do with control. When you see a light changing and you see the large triangle, that’s the control. That’s what I thought. That’s the one time when Panos and I did talk to each other a lot when he would tell me, ‘The mind control is happening to Elena.’
Michael Rogers gives a seriously creepy performance as Dr. Barry Nyle. What was he really like on-set and did he carry the character around between takes?
EA: Yeah, actually Michael was a little method. He was in his character most of the time on-set and he’s such a hard worker and you can tell that in his performance. Sometimes it really depended on what the scene was he was going to do before, but he was in character already. He kind of did the same thing as I did; he isolated himself away from people just so you don’t freak them out.
What did you feel the relationship was between Barry and Elena?
EA: It’s hard because I saw it as this twisted love story. Barry Niles is in love with Elena’s mother and it’s sad what happens, but he is not able to let that go and that’s why he’s holding onto Elena. But as far as what she thinks of him? I think there’s love there as well because Elena is such an emotional driven character. It’s not one hundred percent hate – she has that compassion and love for him. She can feel his pain.
So what’s next for you – what can we look forward to?
EA: I don’t know yet! (Laughs) I’m just auditioning a lot here and there and I’m doing a lot of stuff. I’m taking an acting course and taking a woman’s studies class and an English course as well. So I’m kind of dipping my toes everywhere – we’ll see what happens!
And now – the review!
It’s funny how a lot of the original provocative cinematic auteurs have moved into safe territory. Guys like David Cronenberg, Dario Argento and the like have all mellowed out as the years have gone by and frankly I miss their brand of work that elicits both admiration and repulsion. Enter Panos Cosmatos. As the son of the late George P. Cosmatos of "Cobra" and "Leviathan" fame, Panos has taken all the strange of "The Brood" and "Rabid," the style of "Suspiria" and the quiet cool that only a Canadian filmmaker can deliver and has delivered one of the most fascinating and harrowing films this year. Visually and emotionally, "Beyond the Black Rainbow" is one terrifically tortured trip.
Dr. Barry Nyle is a troubled scientist with a serious case of being obsessive compulsive. He works all the time, arrives home fully detached and seems to have a serious fascination with a young patient named Elena. But this is no normal hospital, Barry no normal doctor and Elena is no ordinary patient.
Other the above there is really no cohesive way of describing "Beyond the Black Rainbow." It’s a total assault on the senses with bright colors, highlighted emotions and a synthesized score that screams early Carpenter. It’s like trying to describe early Cronenberg symbolism – you just need to see it for yourself. Cosmatos takes all the early 80’s vibes of his father’s pop culture legacy, mixes it with a serious auteur sensibility and blends well for an experience that’s unforgettable. Plus his two leads are pitch perfect; Michael Rogers as the delightfully deranged Barry Nyle and the lovely and silent Eva Allan both make up two sides of the same twisted and damaged coin.
This one is not going to be for everyone, as something so envelope pushing is always up for interpretation. But for those who crave originality, desire the demented and thrive on the insane, the colorful "Beyond the Black Rainbow" is true to its title.