Review by Sean Boelman
The Wave, directed by Gille Klabin, is a new psychological horror-comedy, and arguably one of the trippiest films in recent memory. Thanks to a wacky script, some truly disturbing imagery, and a committed performance from star Justin Long, this ends up being a truly memorable sci-fi flick.
The movie follows a quiet insurance lawyer who, after a crazy bender celebrating a promotion, finds that he has been dosed with an unknown hallucinogen that affects his perception of time and space. Perhaps the most intriguing thing about this film is how it takes a familiar arc — the crazy night — and turns it on its head by playing with the idea of time
The pacing of the movie is certainly quite interesting, as the film is admittedly pretty all over the place, though herein lies a lot of the charm. The disorienting and hectic nature of the movie helps transport the viewer into the mindset that the protagonist is experiencing. Unfortunately, the film comes to a much more predictable and conventional ending than the first hour would suggest, but it is still mostly satisfying.
Perhaps the movie’s biggest issue is that the script by Carl W. Lucas seems to feel the need to shove in a moral lesson into the film’s final act. Although the introduction makes it obvious that the movie is pushing towards something, when that thing is revealed, it is somewhat shallow and underwhelming. With such a creative approach, one would have hoped that the filmmakers had something more interesting to say.
Nevertheless, the character development in the film is extremely strong. The protagonist is a highly empathetic character, with plenty of traits that make him outright lovable. Even though his arc is a tad formulaic, it is compelling enough to serve as the motivation for the character’s crazy actions. Additionally, the wacky side characters he encounters along the way are quite interesting.
Long gives one of the best performances of his career in the title role, as it plays into his comedic sensibilities while allowing him to flex some of his emotional chops. As the character becomes more and more disheveled, both physically and mentally, Long gets to go even crazier with his performance, and it works quite well. The supporting cast includes Donald Faison and Tommy Flanagan, among others, but Long steals the show.
On a technical level, the movie is extremely strong as a result of inspired direction from Klabin. The film goes all-in on the weirdness, with a visual style that is extremely energetic and kinetic. A handful of scenes in the movie are truly nightmarish in the best way possible, as they feature some very well-shot disturbing imagery.
Ambitious, but in a way that could be managed, The Wave is a surprisingly good sci-fi flick. Genre fans will almost certainly be satisfied with the script that pulls no punches and the visual style that is admirably off-the-rails.
The Wave is now in theaters and on VOD.