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By Mike Watt | February 10, 2005

It took me over a year to sit down and watch Andrew Copp’s “Black Sun”. I’m a huge fan and supporter of his previous film, “The Mutilation Man”, and knew that his follow-up would be just as challenging. Copp doesn’t make “easy movies”, neither visually or thematically, and demands the audience work hard to find the story hidden amongst the imagery.

“Black Sun” is about sex, relationships, love and anger. It’s violent and frequently very disturbing. The “plot”, if one demands one, involves a man, Brian, who is in love, but can’t escape the pain of his horrific past. As a teenager, he literally killed a man who raped his girlfriend, and—perhaps figuratively—killed a team of bullies who beat on him in a playground. As an adult, he finds himself strapped down in a make-shift medical ward, his skull open, brain exposed, his haunted past laid out on a television monitor for all to see while his sleeping body is watched over by a quartet of white-robed women.

“Black Sun” isn’t for the casual viewer, any more than its predecessor, “The Mutilation Man”. Sitting through some of the more disturbing imagery is difficult, as is dissecting the themes from the blatantly (and sometimes accidentally) misleading shots. It also demands patience from the jaded horror fans as “Black Sun” is a movie where the seams show. The make-up effects in most cases don’t hold up to close scrutiny, and gore hounds will find some of the violence laughable. The acting, too, is often as painful to endure as the medical footage. If you can look past all that, allow yourself to feel the rage that virtually pours from every frame, if you cast a blind eye to the worst of the latex appliances and think about what Copp, the director, is trying to say, then by the end of the film, you may feel the catharsis that the lead character is feeling.

Obviously, “Black Sun” is by no means a perfect movie, and in the shadow of “The Mutilation Man” it does not fare as well, though it does stand on its own as a distinctly different piece of art. The experimental editing, particularly in the superimpositions and sound layers, show that Copp studied his Stan Brakhage and Alexandro Jodorowsky. A great amount of care went into this production, intent that reached beyond the limitations of the budget. Viewers out there who don’t mind doing a bit of work during a movie would be well-advised to check it out.

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