ALT | Altered States
As Y2K approaches and apocalyptic paranoia hits a fever pitch, Abbie (Joshua Burge) has but one objective: he’s finally going to conquer Pac-Man’s legendary Level 256 and beat the villainous Billy Mitchell’s record in the process. His sadistic, enabling brother, Cam (David Dastmalchian), has thrown down a particularly grueling gauntlet for good measure: Abbie isn’t allowed to leave the couch until the deed is done. With his ensuing months of solitude only occasionally infringed on by his slacker buddies, Abbie ultimately reaps the fruits of his misguided ambition when a pair of 3D glasses grant him a degree of power and influence he’s never experienced before.
Punk auteur Joel Potrykus (Buzzard, VIFF 14) takes this living-room-as-Lifeboat concept and runs with it, anchoring his slacker protagonist in place as civilization crumbles around him and rampant, metaphor-rich absurdity rises in its place.
"A masterpiece of depraved ’90s nostalgia… Both hilarious and mesmerizing… Burge, whose lanky features and saucer-shaped eyes recall Buster Keaton, is a perfect vessel for Abbi’s outrageous conundrum… Relaxer finds its groove as both slapstick and a masterful surrealist media satire. "—Eric Kohn, IndieWire