It seems fitting that Gaspar Noe's latest film would have a warning sign outside the theatre. This is the director whose 2002 release, 'Irreversible,' included a graphic 9-minute rape scene that caused critics to walk out of the screening. This time, the warning is not for pornography but for the strobe lights that act as a theme throughout 'Enter the Void.'


"It also goes out of focus, you think that you are losing your sight and it's impossible to fix," Noe says while in Toronto for this year's Toronto International Film Festival. "That's just playing with the audience."

It seems fitting that Gaspar Noe's latest film would have a warning sign outside the theatre. This is the director whose 2002 release, 'Irreversible,' included a graphic 9-minute rape scene that caused critics to walk out of the screening. This time, the warning is not for pornography but for the strobe lights that act as a theme throughout 'Enter the Void.'


"It also goes out of focus, you think that you are losing your sight and it's impossible to fix," Noe says while in Toronto for this year's Toronto International Film Festival. "That's just playing with the audience."


Regardless of the French filmmaker's intentions, the bright lights and frenetic camera work of 'Enter the Void' are not much fun. In fact, they are downright annoying. The film unravels from the perspective of Oscar (Nathaniel Brown), a 20-something American who is caught up in the psychedelic reality of Tokyo's underground drug world. We see Japan through Oscar's drug-addled eyes until he the moment he dies, which is when we start to follow his sister, Linda (Paz de la Huerta), who he watches over from the afterlife.


Noe's film is structured around 'The Tibetan Book of the Dead,' the last novel Oscar reads before he dies. However, 'Enter the Void' focuses less on Oscar's demise and more on his "altered state of consciousness" as he takes various illegal substances.


'Most kids when they get stoned say, "Oh I wish I could see a movie that's like this." There are not many movies that achieve to reproduce moments of hallucination,' Noe says in Toronto, where his film is screening as part of the Toronto International Film Festival. 'There are moments in 'Trainspotting' and 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' that are good, the end of '2001' is amazing, some pieces of 'Altered States' are good as well, but there is not one movie that shows a drug trip from the beginning to the end."


Classified as a melodrama by some critics, 'Enter the Void' does include the sort of graphic scenes that have become the director's trademark. Linda's abortion would make any gynaecology patient cringe in recognition while Oscar's death is as faecal as it is bloody.


Despite his penchant for viscera, Noe is not entirely comfortable being classified as a disciple of the New French Extremity movement. The term refers to the transgressive films that are favoured by French directors in the 21st century (for example, Oliver Assayas' 'Demonlover' and Alexandre Aja's 'High Tension').


"I don't know if there's a new extreme cinema," Noe says in response to the label. "In the 70s there were a lot of hardcore movies. Some people like soft core, some people like it hardcore. When it comes to movies, it's all fake; they're just magic tricks you want to look good."


Noe becomes coy when explaining how he gathered the research to put us in Oscar's tripped out shoes. He pauses when I ask him if he did all the drugs that his main character samples. "I was a curious teenager and I turned into a curious man," he says with a grin.