Upstream Color | Chicago Reader

Upstream Color

96 minutes 2013

Shane Carruth returns at long last with a follow-up to Primer (2004), his creepy, ultra-low-budget SF puzzler. This time the story is even more ominous and obscure: A woman at a bar is attacked with a taser, dragged out the back door, and force-fed a worm that gives her kidnapper telepathic control over her actions. He directs her to liquidate her home equity and max out her credit cards for him, and when she comes out of her trance a few days later, she has no recollection of what happened. Carruth spends the rest of the movie alluding to a sinister bio-engineering conspiracy that's never really explained, which suggests that his working method is to appropriate some SF cliché but then withhold the sort of narrative payoffs we all expect from it. No one else today approaches the genre in quite this way; the only precedent I can think of is Nicolas Roeg's The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976).

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