Upstream Color (2013)

9.5/10 – Grilled Seal of Approval


Director Shane Carruth (or perhaps we should now call him auteur?) is a man on the rise. This movie is a breath of fresh air in every possible respect. It is complex and weird and wholly original and will possibly (likely?) warrant a higher score upon repeat viewings. What is going on here? There’s some sort of mystery, there’s some sort of romance, there’s a whole lot of freaky connections between people and pigs, and it’s all painted with the beauty and the precise skill of an artist with a original vision.

Part of this movie contains a fictionalized representation of a truly horrific drug – The Devil’s Breath. I spoke about The Devil’s Breath in one of my posts from Vietnam, but for the uninformed, it is a drug of unbelievable power. Unlike most drugs, there is no recreational or medical reason for consuming it. The Devil’s Breath, or Scopolamine as it is also known, causes a complete lack of inhibition in its users. No, that’s not quite its extent… not just a lack of inhibition, but it causes a complete lack of free will.

The Devil’s Breath is given to its victims without their knowledge – in food, in a drink, as a powder blown in your face – and allows the administrator to take full control of the victim.

Full Control.

Hey, go walk into traffic. – Okay, sure.
Hey, go to your ATM, take out all of your money, and give it to me. – Okay, sure.
Hey, take this gun and shoot everyone you see and then kill yourself. – Okay, sure.
Hey, take this knife and chop off your fingers. Then eat them – one by one – whenever you feel hungry. – Okay, sure.

Full Control.

The drug wears off after a couple days, and the victim wakes up in a random place without any memories and without their money.

Scary, and completely unbelievable, right? Well, I thought so too until I met an American who had just been victimized by the Devil’s Breath. It’s out there, and it is real, and it is fucking scary. He got it in the Philippines, but most of the reports of the drug are from Colombia; the plant that is used to make the drug grows naturally there.

So, now you think you know about Upstream Color, right? You think it’s just a story about the Devil’s Breath? Nope. Not by a long shot. It’s something so much more, and so much more special, and so very worth your time.

Check it out and watch out for Shane Carruth!

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