Dir; Erick Castillo. Starring; Clint Obenchain, Andrea Saliaz, Brett Becker. NR. Color. 29 minutes.
When tragedy happens in life we always lose a part of our normal psyche. Director Erick Castillo’s “Pareidolia” deals with that exact phenomenon. The definition of pareidolia is when a person perceives a specific, meaningful and personal image in an otherwise meaningless object. Basically someone who is searching for something that they cannot grasp tangibly. That is what our main character Milo (Clint Obenchain) is going through.
The film opens with Milo in a psychiatrist’s office questioning why he can’t remember his life and is constantly talking to things that are not real. The therapist (Brett Becker) brings up the possibility of his patient suffering from this rare brain disease. At that point Milo slips off into his own mind and stop listening to the medical professional. At the end of the session Milo is on his way with a bunch of pills, despite not remembering where he even lives.
From there the visions and thoughts in his head are underway, starting with a voice coming from the mailbox before his neighbor interrupts his fantasy. Both the psychiatrist and neighbor reference some tragic event from the past. Once inside the house Milo spends most of his time in a corner covering up his head as though he is either shamed or heartbroken by whatever happened. Flashes from the past continue to pop into his head randomly. The pieces come together slowly, but I will not reveal the tragedy here.
The false visions around town continue, including a face-like rock telling him that he has to fight to remember. Milo is also being followed by a woman wearing a neck brace. When she approaches in a park Milo takes off running instantly.
In the meantime the psychiatrist Walter is going through his own unexplained problems with his colleague giving him advice to make sure he doesn’t get his ass fired. He’s revealed as possibly just as off mentally as his client. Yet it turns out that all of these entities around Milo are connected, he just can’t figure out how. From there it becomes a cat-and-mouse game for Milo to find out the truth both in his mind as well as in reality.
The conclusion to this story is heartbreaking as Milo is finally hit in the face with what has happened but in such a beautiful way, with a painting and a comforting soul by his side. The almost final scene between the two leads is gut wrenching
“Pareidolia” is an emotional rollercoaster that every viewer will take from differently depending on their own unique life experience. It is a film about reflection. Director Erick Castillo uses that idea visually, particularly with a shot of Milo looking into a window with the other person not seeing him. You also have this crazy scene with him fighting a full sized pillow man that comes to life, which is basically him fighting his own mind.
The movie is not perfect. There are a few strange cut to black moments and the two therapists, while good in their own right, don’t really have a ton of chemistry when it is just them on screen. But other than that, “Pareidolia” is both romantic and tragic at the same time. While there is that basic concept from the title, this movie is relatable to the lives of all of us. One of my favorite lines ever comes at the end; “Just try to be open and never, ever, ever, fight love.”