Reality, like reality, may or may not be your thing. Surreal, twisty, twisted, and occasionally funny, this brain-melter is the latest from fringe-y cult favorite director Quentin Dupieux (Rubber). The bilingual flick is a floating, plot-free thing featuring dreams and dreams within dreams and a string of seemingly disparate but, in the end, sort-of connected characters. There’s Jason, a French would-be director (Alain Chabat) scrambling to make it in L.A. while working at a dead end gig as a third cameraman on a TV cooking show on which the host (Jon Heder), who suffers from “internal eczema,” tries to liven up things by wearing a rat suit. Meanwhile, Jason pitches to a French film producer (Jonathan Lambert) a half-baked sci-fi movie project titled Waves, in which murderous TVs brain-drain unsuspecting viewers and leave them as babbling morons.
The producer is willing to shell out the money as long as Jason comes up with the right death sounds for the characters as their TVs suck the sense out of them – “the best groan in movie history.” There’s also a little girl called Reality (Kyla Kenedy) who finds a blood-splattered VHS in the corpse of a hog (or boar?) slaughtered by her father, a documentary moviemakers who knows the secret of the tape (John Glover), and a cross-dressing school principal (Eric Wareheim). Some of the talented Dupieux’ stuff works but as a Hollywood satire of zero-budget horror flicks, Reality is never as fresh or savage as its needs to be. It comes off as a self-consciously arty, hothouse thing accompanied by a tiny snatch of a 1971 Philip Glass in almost constant, numbing and tiresome rotation. ** ½