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“NOCLIP” is a disorienting, unnerving found footage nightmare—a deceptively simple concept that does so much with so little.


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The idea behind liminal space is so deceptively simple that it feels like a half-completed thought in a philosophical conversation. Liminal spaces can be best described as areas of transition. Corners that have no purpose except to connect two other rooms, abandoned houses, parking lots, hallways, and elevators are a few good examples. If you are in a liminal space and you don’t leave or if the space itself loses purpose, you can experience a terrible feeling of loneliness, dread, and displacement.

It is said that sometimes, if you get lost enough, you enter a liminal space with no end.

The repetition erases your purpose, as well as your sentience, as the liminal spaces you run through go on and on. Your one panicked desire now is to escape, but the place you’re in wants to keep you. So then you are trapped in a liminal space without end.

Many clever YouTube videos have featured “Backrooms,” which is what the otherworldly labyrinths are called. You may have even seen some of the clips. They’re hard to miss since the backrooms are puke-green and shot using amateur equipment.

Backroom clips sometimes show encounters with mysterious beings and creatures, such as a black spider beast resembling spilled ink.

At a brisk 61 minutes, the Alex Conn and Gavin Charles experimental found-footage horror film NOCLIP depicts two hapless yet curious stoners intent on exploring the Crown Center shopping mall in search of a cluster of backrooms.

They get stoned, grab their camera, and go off into the great unknown liminal void.

As shopping mall spelunkers, they explore every long hall, empty room, and slow elevator they can find. As they explore, they point out paint and brick patterns that may lead to backrooms.

Watching them walk through the mall, the eye can pick up little Kubrickian patterns of lines and shapes, especially when investigating stairways and offices. Their camera starts to glitch as they progress further inside the office area. These are in-camera glitches, like the kind we’ve seen hundreds of times before. However, they soon become aware of environmental glitches. The picture’s edges organically bend and distort, and you feel like you’re the answer piece inside a Magic 8 Ball.

Mild disorientation gives way to slow-burning fear as the atmosphere distortion gradually intensifies.

The colors heat up and become red, orange, and yellow as they phase into different spokes in the color wheel. Their bodies distort, their heads wobble with asymmetrical half-faces, and they become the latest examples of being careful about what you wish for. The backrooms of Crown Center have devoured them.

NOCLIP was written, produced, and directed by Alex Conn and Gavin Charles, with special effects and editing assistance by Tyrel Ventura. Although it starts quietly, within ten minutes, the psychedelic nightmare trip through the backrooms begins, and it is very effective.

Alex and Gavin suggest you watch this either stoned or edibles, and I have to agree.

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 3.5
NOCLIP was screened for this review during the Chattanooga Film Festival 2024 as part of the virtual programming.  

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