Ram Gopal Varma’s Climax has an obvious enthusiasm for its consistently half-naked (or sometimes totally naked) star, but it’s much less interested in basic notions of coherence and quality.
I suppose it only makes sense if you’re going to cast a **** star in your film that you spend most of the runtime ogling her in various states of undress, but given the kinds of things you can quite easily turn up by typing “Mia Malkova” and “climax” into a search engine anyway, I’d suggest a feature-film needs a little bit more to justify the effort. Ram Gopal Varma’s Climax, which is currently available on a pay-per-view basis, because let’s be frank why wouldn’t it be, has the hot star and the titillation, but virtually nothing else in a by-the-numbers kind-of horror plot that sees Malkova and her boyfriend wandering into a desert despite a no-entry sign and being terrorized by crazy locals.
RGV, a veteran, maverick director, has his fingerprints all over the project, and his marketing might behind it, but there’s no real identity in the random series of scenes and ideas that result. They’re strung together in such a way that they more or less qualify as a film, but it’d be a stretch to suggest it’s a coherent one. Once Malkova has wasted much of the opening portion strutting around in next to nothing, and then nothing at all, all the ideas – and one imagines most of the target demographic – seem to be spent. What follows is flat at best and insipid at worst, blighted by a stale sandy aesthetic and a complete lack of interest in making the events compelling, scary, exciting, or worthwhile.
Without a workable screenplay, some basic elements of performance or even the vague outline of a story worth telling, Climax is left to be nothing more than a patronizing showcase of Malkova’s ample physical assets – her performative ones aren’t of any concern, though it’s a small matter to see her play better roles elsewhere. If that’s the standard set here, you have to wonder why anyone would pay for a film inferior in every way to a free *****. That dramatic quandary is the best Climax comes up with.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.