When you dive into the mind of a conspiracy obsessed, hallucinating documentarist your brain will not know what to do but dive further into the abyss. Dan Fogler and Michael Canzoniero direct Don Peyote, a story about a simple and normal man thrown into the pits of insanity. This film is not for the everyday viewer for it requires a very open mind. Through many different visual techniques it portrays a man slowly losing his mind quite well. Don Peyote is an adventure to say the least and will definitely seize your attention.
Dan Fogler stars as Warren, a very likable character who is just trying to discover himself. Warren is engaged to be married and trying to balance wedding plans with his true hobby, conspiracy theories. He seems normal on the outside, but once his mind is revealed his sanity comes into question. One day Warren runs into a homeless man obsessed with Doomsday, he then later embarks on a drug infused exploration surrounded by fellow conspiracy theorists and off the wall characters. Through a weird hallucination, he meets a mysterious girl (Anne Hathaway) who feeds him information about every secret and theory that one can think of and splits his mind wide open. In the opening credits to the film a quote is shown that reads, “The hundredth monkey phenomenon refers to a sudden spontaneous and mysterious leap of consciousness that is achieved when an allegedly “critical mass” point is reached by some process currently beyond the normal scope of science.” It sure is a mouthful, but I believe this is that moment for Warren.
The film takes an interesting turn after this monumental night. Warren becomes engulfed by all the knowledge he has been given, he wants answers so he turns to his best friend who goes by the name of Balance to help him make a documentary. The film begins to switch in and out of a documentary style that is executed and timed perfectly. It compliments Warren’s interviews with different conspiracy theorists and shows his mind slowly changing and drifting away. When his fiance starts to notice this, his whole life begins to spiral downwards. Warren reaches a point in his mind where he is too far gone to come back and is placed in a mental hospital where his hallucinations only get worse. His fiance then leaves him which causes Warren to latch onto the only thing he has left, his journey to find himself.
Fogler and Canzoniero do a phenomenal job of interpreting Warren’s mind onto the screen. Although Warren is already crazy, he allows his hallucinations to help guide him through this quest. Through clever cuts and lighting changes, it is hard to separate illusion from reality. He manages to break out of the hospital and ventures out into the real world to live out his fantasies. Many stars make cameos here and there during Warren’s travels. They help him find what he is looking for and occasionally provide comedic relief. Josh Duhamel’s performance was by far the finest. When Warren decides to venture into the woods he comes across a homeless man (Josh Duhamel) and his girlfriend. They bring him back to reality for a little bit and teach him how to be happy again. The homeless couple’s relationship is very strange, but yet beautiful. They are not the stereotypical homeless people. They choose to live the way they do and are completely satisfied with just each other. Once everything seems to settle down Ayahuasca (a psychedelic) is introduced causing Warren to become lost within himself permanently. He manages to reach the end of his journey which unfortunately was not as satisfying as I was hoping. Although it was heartwarming, it just didn’t feel like the end of his story.
“The hundredth monkey phenomenon” was successfully illustrated in Warren’s life. Every inner journey is unique and Dan Fogler and Michael Canzoniero did a fantastic job of writing Warren’s. The human mind is showcased in a distinctive way using modern animation and effects combined with unique storytelling. Don Peyote will take you further down the rabbit hole than you ever imagined you could go. When the film is done you may be a little confused, but it is only because no one can truly understand how it is to be that far gone without going there themselves. Dan Fogler does a great job bringing you as close into that type of mind as you can get. He’s remarkably believable and makes you feel deeply for the character. By the time the film ends, you will be left with a special connection and place in your heart for Don Peyote.
Don Peyote. Directed by: Dan Fogler and Michael Canzoniero; Written by: Dan Fogler and Michael Canzoniero; Available on VOD and iTunes: May 9, 2014; Available In Theaters: May 16, 2014; Running Time: 98 minutes; Rated: NR