2014 / Director. Youssef Delara & Victor Teran.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
ENTER THE DANGEROUS MIND is a psychological thriller that takes elements from films like TAXI DRIVER, FREEZE FRAME and THE LOST and mashes them together with reckless abandonment to create an unexpectedly dark and unforgiving character study.
Jake Hoffman plays Jim, a quiet and withdrawn man who rarely leaves his apartment and spends his days and nights composing dark ambient electronic music. He describes his art as exorcising the voices in his head and with a strong online presence he has accumulated thousands of loyal followers. His roommate is a constant thorn in his side and relentlessly tries to get Jim out into the world, meeting people. Jim resists all enticements and keeps his head down, until he meets a girl and falls for her. Suddenly his world has become more complex than he can handle and his suppressed psychological issues come raging to the surface.
The film is a dark and twisted exploration of a damaged mind and it uses a strong kinetic electronic soundtrack to exemplify the story. Directors Youssef Delara and Victor Teran have exploited various methods of filmmaking to send the viewer on rapid spiral into madness along with the character. The disjointed music and fractured editing gives the narrative a nightmarish surrealism that makes it a compelling, yet unnerving movie-going experience. Volume is the key and having it turned up loud, with the lights off will definitely heighten the film's impact.
I watched it with admiration for the lead actor's performance. He kept reminding me of a young Dustin Hoffman and bore an uncanny resemblance to Ratso from MIDNIGHT COWBOY. Of course it wasn't until the film had finished that I learned that the actor was Jim Hoffman, son of Dustin Hoffman. There is a strong physical resemblance but also a clear natural talent that has been passed from father to son. Jim carries ENTER THE DANGEROUS MIND on his shoulders with ease and delivers a weighty performance. The support cast includes Nikki Reed (TWILIGHT), Thomas Dekker (LAID TO REST) and Scott Bakula (QUANTUM LEAP), who are all good and provide solid marker-points for Hoffman to bounce off of.
With a presumedly low budget, the film is elevated by a well structured script, competent direction and an impressive lead performance. It has also been met with a lot of heavy criticisms for its "negligent" portrayal of mental illness and much of its poor critical reception has been focused on this aspect, which is unfair in my opinion. The filmmakers have no obligations, aside from making a compelling and entertaining film. Just as I would never hold Terry Gilliam or Martin Scorcese to account for their depictions of mental illness, I would never cast such unreasonable condemnations on Youssef Delara and Victor Teran. All sorts of factors of life are misrepresented in cinema and the onus is on the viewer to process and distinguish fact from fiction. ENTER THE DANGEROUS MIND is an intense and nightmarish film that should please fans of films like THE MACHINIST and JACOB'S LADDER.