This week our writers peruse the psychedelic and hone in on the hallucinative in their exploration of Michael Glawogger's absurd Austrian stoner comedy CONTACT HIGH (2009).
Showing how drugs affect their characters is a popular trope in the “stoner” film. The comedy sub-genre has boomed in both mainstream and independent cinema since the 1990s, evident in the popularity of films such as the Jay and Silent Bob “View Askewniverse” films (Kevin Smith 1994 -) and Seth Rogan’s works such as PINEAPPLE EXPRESS (David Gordon Green 2008) and THIS IS THE END (Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen 2013).
CONTACT HIGH (Micheal Glawogger 2009) depicts its characters’ drug-induced hallucinations differently to how other films have done in the past. Instead of using an abundance of CGI to recreate what the characters see, CONTACT HIGH does so in its use of jarring and disjointed editing techniques mixed with more physical manipulations of other people and settings. Rather than editing a multitude of colours dancing across the screen, CONTACT HIGH goes further by actually changing the world around the characters for the audience to see.
The film itself represents a “trip”, with everything starting normally but then it all descends into chaos. The mysterious glowing substance, hidden in the bag that Max (Michael Ostrowki) and Johann (Raimund Wallisch) are tasked with finding, has an hallucinatory effect on all who encounter it. And thus begins the spiral into a drug-fuelled whirlwind adventure.
During a scene in a nightclub, Max and Johann eat “space cakes” filled with the mysterious ingredient and they begin to see unusual visions of large anthropomorphic dogs in place of the other dancers. By using dog masks instead of perhaps more realistic special effects in scenes such as this, it makes this “trip” feel even stranger. These physical manipulations allow reality to be subverted, merging the expected with the unexpected.
Every day this week a different writer will provide their perspective on our MUBIVIEWS film and each post will be open to comments from our readers. Watch CONTACT HIGH on mubi.com until 19 May 2017 and join the discussion!
One MUBI film, five perspectives, endless possibilities.