I watched Gaspar Noe’s 2018 psychological horror Climax alone in the dark, and while I loved it, declared that I never need to see it again. The raw intensity was just too much, and (small spoiler), anything involving harm to children I find extremely hard to watch. However, it stuck with me, and the following week I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and so ended up showing it to my husband so I could discuss all the feelings I had bubbling up, and maybe also lighten the torment.
The film is light on plot but heavy on style and the complexities of relationships and trust. It takes place in the mid 90s and focuses on a newly formed troupe of French dancers from diverse backgrounds about to embark on a tour to America. Their bon voyage party turns frightening as they are unwittingly drugged with LSD-laced sangria, and their confusion and mistrust create horrific consequences. And we feel every bit of it, winding through a terrifying wonderland of rooms in an empty school, bright lights and writhing bodies.
There is an extended dance sequence at the beginning which is nothing short of exuberant, and is heartbreaking to reflect upon considering the events that happen afterwards. The actors are for the most part dancers with little film experience, so their performances have a natural feel that is sometimes lost in seasoned actors. While the film is minimally scripted, the dance is well planned and there is a good bit of foreshadowing in it, I noticed. I mean, while the movie is difficult to watch, the dance is delightful and I’ve revisited countless times; I watch it whenever I’m having a bad day.
So of course it goes without saying, the recipe for this film was definitely going to be a sangria. But like the dancers, sangria comes in countless versions and flavors and feels, from delicate and sparkling to dark and deep. So I took inspiration from Selva, the troupe’s choreographer. While it is definitely an ensemble film, she emerges quickly as the protagonist, in her yellow dress (everyone else is dressed in blacks and reds), and it’s her tumultuous journey we are mostly along for over the course of the night.
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The actress who plays her, Sofia Boutella, is one of the few actors with prior acting experience, and she is particularly mesmerizing in this role. She comes from an Algerian background, so that’s what I chose as this sangria’s flavor profile. I use pomegranate juice whenever I get the chance, but there’s also apricot and orange and some delicate cinnamon and cardamom.
The whole thing is lightened up with a sparkling orange drink. I wanted to find Orangina, the French-Algerian classic, which we sold at the upscale deli where I had my first job. It’s harder to find nowadays, at least where I live – you can order it on Amazon but apparently in March they started to distribute it more widely here North America so maybe it will be popping up soon. But this isn’t fussy, sangria is really more of an art than a science, so you can use any brand (I used San Pellegrino blood orange flavor).
Sparkling Orange and Pomegranate Sangria
- 8 ounces pomegranate juice
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 cardamom pods
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 bottle mid-bodied inexpensive red wine
- 1/2 cup apricot brandy
- 1 orange, sliced
- 1/2 a pomegranate’s seeds
- Sparkling orange juice to top
Ideally start this the day before you plan to serve so the flavors have a chance to marry.
In a small sauce pan, bring pomegranate juice, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, and sugar to a simmer. Simmer until pomegranate juice is reduced by about half. Remove from heat and cool completely.
Strain into a pitcher, and mix with red wine, apricot brandy, orange slices and pomegranate seeds. Chill thoroughly, ideally overnight. Serve over ice, topped with sparkling orange juice and garnished with more orange slices and pomegranate seeds.
Need more horror-inspired recipes? See everything delectable dish in the Witchy Kitchen cookbook HERE and let us now your own recipes over Twitter, in the Nightmare on Film Street Subreddit, and on Facebook in the Horror Movie Fiend Club!