Circadian Rhythm (2005)

[ca-click] Wells County suicide prevention hotline, this is Beth, can I have your name, please?

Nate, my name is Nate.

Hello, Nate, how can I help you today?

I did...I did something bad, Beth, real bad and I'm not sure I can get past it.

Oh, dear, what did you do? Did you hurt yourself?

Well, in a way, yes. You see, I watched this movie this morning, and...and it hurt me, Beth, it hurt me.

What movie was it? Was it Sucker Punch, because we've been getting a lot of calls from people with issues with that one.

No, it wasn't Sucker Punch, even I know better than to watch that. It was Circadian Rhythm, a direct-to-video Matrix rip-off I found in the clearance bin at Blockbuster.

Oh my, you shouldn't look in those bins, Nate, there are a lot of bad, hurtful things in those bins.

I know, I know that, I just..I just wanted to save some money, you know? It was only five bucks, I mean, I didn't know, Beth, I didn't know it was going to be that bad. I didn't know anything could be that bad.

Ok, let me look that one up. How do you spell "rhythm"?

You know, I don't actually know offhand, sorry. I can't imagine too many reasons why I'd ever need to write the word "rhythm".

Ok, Nate, I looked it up on imdb, yes, that seems like a very bad movie. I have to say I've never heard of Circadian Rhythm, it doesn't seem to be listed on our master index of movies that provoke suicide.

Probably because only five people have seen it, and they are all dead. It should be on that list, Beth, it should be, if there ever was a movie that would make someone hang themselves, it would be Circadian Rhythm. It's evil.

Can you tell me about it? Sometimes it helps with the dark feelings to talk about them.

I'm not sure. I'm not sure, I mean, it was a pretty painful movie, that's why I called.

Can you try for me, sweetie? I want to try and help you if I can. Just describe it for me, ok?

Ok, ok, thanks. Well, I guess it was one of those infinitely forgettable low-budget films staring nobody you know and produced by a bunch of douche bag losers you'd probably deny knowing even if you did know them.

Oh dear, are you absolutely sure you didn't accidentally watch Sucker Punch? Because it's easy to hit the wrong button sometimes, keyboards are so cramped these days.

No, no, it wasn't Sucker Punch, I was warned well ahead of time on that one.

Ok, can you tell me what your movie was about?

Alright, alright, ok, well I guess I'll start at the beginning. It opened as this random brunette girl runs into a random office building, chased by two other random people. The first girl in the door was the heroine, I suppose.

Was she played by anybody I would know?

Uh, doubt it. Rachel Miner? No? Apparently some washed-up former child actress on some soap opera or something. She looked like...well, she didn't really look like anyone, really, just an ordinary, bland girl. Cute glasses, though.

Hold on, dear, I'm googling her. Goodness, the internet says she's mostly known for getting naked a lot, oh my, that's upsetting.

That's helpful, great job, internet. So her character and this other girl started fighting, but since they filmed most of the action from the neck-down, I could tell they were using stuntwomen. And none of this made a lick of sense, Beth, just random shots of people punching and fighting and stuff, the whole movie was like this. What did it all mean, Beth?

I'm not sure, Nate, but we'll find out together, ok?

And then she woke up in her apartment or somewhere. I saw her brush her teeth and do her hair, and then get in a Mazda Miata and go to some dance club or maybe an Applebee's. She met a guy, they talked, but then he left and I never saw him again. I just didn't know why I was seeing this, it didn't seem to have any purpose in whatever narrative flow the director was trying to introduce.

Sometimes these kinds of movies have hidden context.

Hidden context? Why do I care what kind of toothpaste she uses? Then, all of a sudden, she's tied to a chair and forced to watch video clips from youtube of Communist Russia and Vietnam and stuff. Bad images, like bombs and guns and Republicans and stuff.

Like Alex in A Clockwork Orange?

Yes, exactly like that. Only the actress seemed to be half asleep. Then she woke up in a white room in a black pantsuit with a red balloon by her hand and went out a jet black doorway. My head was pounding by then, there was just too much color saturation in that movie, like they were trying to say it was all a dream or something. So then she went down a staircase and out onto a street and then she started running for no apparent reason. It was hard to tell what was happening because in half the shots the camera frame was off-center or tilted or overexposed or some other stupid visual trick.

Maybe that's some sort of director's trademark? Like Cloverfield?

I thought that at first, like he'd been watching too many annoying MTV videos or something, but it was only in the first half of the movie, it didn't happen again, which made no sense. Maybe the first director got fired after the first day, I don't know, I'm not even sure there was an actual director on this one. Then the girl was wandering around some run-down industrial area and they filmed her through a spider web like they were suggesting she was caught in a web of lies and stuff, the way they framed it was just so obvious.

Oh my, the cinematographer must have gone to a very fancy film school.

I know, seriously, how hokey is that? Then she suddenly was in some Catholic elementary school on a Saturday. Then some little blonde girl who looked like a Hanson brother in a sailor suit wandered by and she followed her. I have to say, Beth, little kids standing in empty corridors creep me out, probably residual mental anguish from The Shining or something. So the Hanson Sister took her into a classroom and it looked like the main girl was a teacher or something. But the book was just blank pages and, and, I don't even know what happened then, it was all just such a jumbled mess of pointless flashbacks and crude editing. After 20 minutes I didn't understand a single thing that had happened so far. They did finally tell me the main girl's name, though, Sara.

Sara, let me jot that down, got it.

I guess, they use that name but then they said that wasn't her name, but that's what everyone called her, so it had to be, right?

Right. I guess.

Ok, then this snooty, severe blonde chick came to get Sara. She was all cryptic and mysterious and scowled a lot, but I don't know why, Beth, I don't know who she was supposed to be and I don't think the actress or the director did either. Well, I guess she was Sara's government handler or something, I think she said something about that. Her name was Sandrine.

Sandrine, that's a pretty name.

No, Beth, it's not a pretty name, it's a Frenchie name and I'm going to hang up if you can't be reasonable here.

Ok, ok, Nate, I'm sorry, yes, it's an arrogant and pretentious Eurotrash French name and I spit upon it, ok?

Ok, thank you, I'm just sensitive about movie names. So Sara opened this briefcase and suddenly the screen got all swirly and stuff, like her mind was exploding or melting or tripping or something. Looking back, I guess it was some sort of Manchurian Candidate thing where Sara was preprogrammed to become a hypnotized assassin when she heard a word or something, or maybe there was something in the briefcase that triggered her, none of that was clear to me. Sara then went to some glassy office building with a pair of these monster pistols and shot two random chicks dead before running away.

Goodness, how violent.

Eh, bloodless kills. But, wow, those Desert Eagles .45s were huge in the actress' tiny little hands, good thing they shot prop caps because otherwise the recoil would have snapped her skinny little wrist bones in half holding them that dorky way.

The John Woo sideways-gansta hold thing again? I hate that.

Even worse, the crossed-arms-sideways-random-unaimed thing, sort of a fusion of Kate Beckinsale in Underworld and a 4-year old playing with a toy squirt gun.

But why did she shoot those two girls?

I don't know, Beth, they didn't say why.

Then why do you care so much?

I don't, not at all, I just think a movie should explain some things to an audience, right? Like why your main character just murdered two people in cold blood, simple things like that. Especially in the beginning when you run the risk that people will just flip the channel if they get confused too early, am I right? So Sara was running again down some empty side street when she ran into a guy who whisked her into a hotel room and bossed her around. It was actually a slightly recognizable actor, that one dude with that one haircut who played that Adam Monroe guy on that Heroes TV show, though I kinda felt sorry for him because I know he could do better.

Oh, yeah, I used to watch that show. Isn't it still on?

No, I think you're thinking of No Ordinary Family.

Oh, maybe, I thought they were the same show.

Meh, they kinda are. Anyway, Adam Monroe told Sara those two chicks she shot were agents with some spooky government group. He then zapped a red laser thing into her eyes and then teased her with a McDonald's Big Mac and then ripped it out of her hands before she could take a bite. You think I'm kidding about the Big Mac, don't you, Beth? I'm not, I couldn't make up something that stupid if I wanted to, right?

I'm not here to judge you, Nate.

So Sandrine showed up again, and she took Sara to this empty toy store somewhere and tried to get Sara to recall some childhood memories or something. Why couldn't they just explain what was happening? Why make every scene, every line of dialogue, every frame so damn muddled and confusing? Were they trying to hurt me? And then a ninja attacked Sara.

A ninja? Are you sure it was a ninja?

I guess, he was wearing a pair of black karate pajamas and he was doing these lame karate move things with his hands and stuff. What else could he have been?

Well, it just seems odd to have a ninja in a toy store, that's all. Things like that just don't happen here in Indiana.

You're telling me, I know this, Beth, I know none of this makes sense, ok? Then suddenly Sara knew karate and started fighting the ninja guy. Well, I guess she knew how to make stupidass ninja poses and then duck out of the way so her stunt double could jump in. I don't think Sara knew that she knew karate, she looked surprised that she could kick like that.

Ah, so she's like John Bourne?

Jason Bourne, but, I guess, yeah, now that you say that. So after the fight the women talked and I guess Sara had something "inside her head" that "the agency" wanted. Or maybe not, maybe that was all a trick of her mind. Maybe it was all a bad dream. What was she talking about, what does "the construct is daunting" mean?

What agency? The CIA?

I don't know, I don't know. None of this makes any damn sense.

Ok, calm down. Tell me what she did next.

What do you think she did? She went off jogging aimlessly again through some abandoned warehouse district like always. That's all that girl did for half the movie, just run, run, run, nowhere fast, for no reason.

I hope she was wearing comfortable shoes.

No, skinny-toe boots with three-inch heels, had to have been painful as hell to run in those. So then she was just walking, maybe stumbling, maybe just standing still when she saw an unmarked red van parked nearby and found two toy cameras on the sidewalk. So she goes to a one-hour photo place and this girl with the worst haircut ever was working there. She looked like a young Kirstie Alley, only as a horny lesbian with a fake Czech accent, and I wanted to punch myself because she sounded so stupid. Sara gave the cameras to lesbian Kirstie Alley and told her that she needed the pictures back in 30 minutes, "because by the time the sun sets, I'll be dead!". Seriously, that's what she said, that's what the script said, I just can't describe to you how miserably rotten this movie was in every way.

I've always liked Kirstie Alley, I can't believe she was in this movie.

...Beth, are you even paying attention to me anymore?

Excuse me?

Kirstie Alley wasn't in this pile of dogcrap movie, Beth, I just do this funny thing where I give people nicknames based on who they look like or what they are doing at the time, like I did with the Hanson Sister and Adam Monroe. It's just...just my idiom. You know, um, I don't have a lot of, you know, friends and stuff.

Oh, ok, that makes sense, because Kirstie Alley is much too classy to be in this movie. Are you sure it wasn't her in an unaccredited cameo or something?

...Beth...Jesus, really? Anyway, Sara ran some more down that same deserted, empty street. She only stopped running when she ran into Adam Monroe, who was dressed like a transgendered homeless man, and she said to him, "No metropolitan American would dress that way.", which makes even less sense that you can imagine, right? Did the actress get the wrong script pages? Does she even have the right script? Was there even a script?

Maybe she lied about being able to read?

A distinct possibility. Adam Monroe hinted that the ninja in the toy story was on his payroll, which...ok, whatever. Then a van runs over Adam Monroe and kills him. I think, too many things to keep track of. So then Sara started flashbacking to...whatever. Just jumbled disconnected images of nothing, cars, kids, walls, cities, pickles, phones, shit, just stupid stuff flashing on the screen all the time. There was a room with a red phone and a pantsuit and, and, and, a couch or something, shit I don't know anymore. Then she was running again, and then the Hanson Sister was there again and some old guy with a cigar. Christ. Then she stabbed herself with a nail to remember something.

Tsk, hurting yourself may seem like a good idea, but it never works.

I know, an hour ago I tried to stab myself with a steak knife to forget that I ever saw this movie, but it didn't work. So Sara went back to the photo shop to get her pictures and they were all of some kid in the '80s or something. Was that supposed to be her? Were those her memories? Did she forget all that before now? I don't understand. So then this cop showed up and he seemed like he was going to help Sara out. But they went to that office where she killed those two chicks and they were still alive and then they went to Adam Monroe's hotel room and it was empty, so, seriously, what the hell? Then the cop took her out for coffee but then she got suspicious and snuck off? What, why? Was the cop a bad guy? I don't know. Beth, can you guess what Sara did then?

Runs again?

Yes, she started running again down some empty street. Fucking again with the running, seriously.

I hope she's hydrating, the sun can get hot.

Sure, Beth, she's hydrating. And as she was running there were more flashbacks to snippets of what I'd already seen fifteen gawddam times. Then she met another toothless homeless man, this one claimed he was Prometheus and he "didn't hijack the fire like they said I did", which was fine with me, neither did I. Sara chatted with him but he pulled a gun and her stunt double had to beat down his stunt double. Ok, now I know why Rachel Miner is pretty much just famous for being naked, because that's all she can do. And yet, you know, I looked at her imdb resume, she's been in a lot of high quality TV shows, surely she can't be this agonizingly bad in everything, amiright? I mean, goddamn it, she's fucking horrible in this movie! Damn!

Ok, Nate, I understand, but let's try and use a quiet voice, ok? Can you take some deep breaths for me?

I mean, sure she was only 25 when she did this movie, right, so maybe she grew a lot since then, most of her credits have come after that. I just can't understand for the life of me how an actress who is this atrocious in every phase of her craft, from line-reads, to emoting, to balancing on two feet, could possibly still be working in Hollywood and cashing paychecks. I'm sorry I yelled, it just boggles the mind that someone paid her actual money to be in this movie. Damn it!

I understand, I do. I make $8.75 an hour and we don't have dental here.

Really? Wow, that...that sucks.


Anyway, Sara woke up somewhere and then more flashbacks to all the places she'd been to before, like the house, and the school, and the street, and the fuckme. Then she was back in the classroom giving a lecture on the French Revolution to the Hanson Sister? What? And Adam Monroe showed up, despite the fact that he, you know, died already and they started fighting. Seriously, quick editing cuts and a jerky camera can make anyone look like a trained martial artist, know what I mean, Beth? This entire movie is just one flashy, overlit festival of blandly pretty girls running and punching and jumping around.

Ok, Nate, I'm going to ask you one more time, ok? Are you absolutely sure you weren't watching Sucker Punch? there a supervisor there I can maybe talk to?

I'm sorry, Nate, it's just that I've already had three calls this morning about Sucker Punch and your movie sounds an awful like it. Sometimes movies like that can cause confusion, ok?

No, no, goddamn it, Beth, I did not watch Sucker Punch, ok? I've seen the trailers for that one, I'm not going to hurt myself like that, ok? It was Circadian Rhythm, I'm holding the DVD case in my hand right now, ok? You know, I just realized that nothing on the cover has anything remotely to do with the actual movie.

Alright, alright, I just wanted to make sure, sweetie. Please continue.

I don't remember where I left off, but it probably doesn't matter. I do know that Sara was running again. She ran by a Burlington Northern freight train, she ran by lesbian Kirstie Alley, she ran through some empty lobby, then she was running holding hands with the Hanson Sister. About then I just completely gave up on ever regaining any semblance of a normal life after that was over.

We all feel like giving up sometimes, Nate, but the true measure of a man is how he handles adversity.

...god, what? Beth...ak, did you just read that off a card?

Go on with the movie, ok?

Jesus. Yeah, so, Sandrine and Adam Monroe were now working together and they fingerprinted Sara and were all nice to her. But then that homeless guy Prometheus jumped in and threatened to kill her because he wanted the money that Sandrine was going to pay him or something, I never understood any of that, it's like it was in Japanese or something. But Adam Monroe just shoots him in the head.

Oh my, I hope he's alright., Beth, he's dead. But it didn't matter because Sara kept on running. And running. This time along some elevated gantry of some sort while Adam Monroe, or some other guy, chased her with a gun. Then her stunt double was leaping over some railings and stuff and then Sandrine showed up with a police baton and she and Sara had a long, long fight in a hotel lobby filled with modern expressionist art or some shit. Sara had an umbrella eventually and she was swinging it around, her stunt double then took it and smacked Sandrine's stunt double and then they stepped out of the frame so the two actresses could strike stupid ninja poses and slowly wave their hands around like my 84-year old grandmother doing Tai Chi.

I see. What's you grandmother's name, dear?


Have you called her lately?

No, know, I've been busy and stuff, I got, you know, stuff.

Sure, you're very busy. With your movies and stuff. I'm sure she understands., ok, alright, ok. Anyway, Sara then woke up in that ultra-white room with the red fucking balloon again and I had to go through all that same crap with her flashbacking to various scenes in the movie for the next five minutes while blood poured from my eyeballs. Then Sandrine and Adam Monroe were talking about Sara's grandfather and about blowjobs and car tires and then Sandrine just picked up a spontaneous British accent. Damn. Then they tossed in some pointless stock footage shots of airplanes and a tank, just because they could and because they were just fucking toying with me by then. Sandrine said that the "11th Directorate" was hunting Sara but didn't explain anything because they had to do some more flashbacks.

A lot of flashback scenes, it seems.

I know! Of the 117 interminable minutes this movie lasted, maybe 40 were flashbacks to previous scenes, another 5 were stock footage, and another 5 were just the director filming his own acid trip. There were maybe 30 minutes of actual new-shot footage, most of it of Sara running around some back alley in her Hilary Clinton pantsuit, incredible waste of everyone's time.

Sounds unwatchable, you poor man. I don't know how you made it through the whole thing.

I know!!! And then Sara was just lying there when this old guy came up and shot Sandrine and Adam Monroe dead, and then they were in a limo under a bridge somewhere. And this guy was J. Edgar Hoover! Seriously. And Sara was his daughter, and he was talking smack about Khrushchev and Kennedy and saying how he faked his own death to keep his family safe and now the CIA is after them all. God, you can't imagine how badly that movie sucked, Beth, on every level. Then Sara woke up in that white room again with the balloon.

Again with the white room?

Yeah, fucking again, I can't believe how many times they can reuse the same footage over and over again. And then more flashbacks, seriously, after an hour I still didn't know what was happening in that movie, not at all. And then it just ended, just ended. Was it all some sort of CIA/FBI plot to hypnotize Sara into doing something? Was it all a dream? Did any of it really happen? Did Sara ever go to the bathroom all day? I just, I just don't know anything anymore. As soon as it was over I started having chest pains, Beth, I couldn't breathe, you know, like my body was shutting down from the sheer stupidity of that movie. Fuck me fuck me fuck me it made no sense it hurt fuck me...gsmfaim,o,a

Nate, Nate, are you ok?

Yeah, I just blacked out for a second.

Ten minutes, actually. I was about to call for an ambulance.


Ok, well, after hearing what you've been through with Circadian Rhythm I've been thinking about how best to help you.


Honey, do you own a shotgun?

Ummm...of course. Why?

Oh sweetie, I'm so sorry about this, but in my professional opinion, this movie done messed you up real good in a deep and profound emotional way. To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure you're ever going to be the same again, even if I were to set you up with counseling or refer you to a doctor. There just isn't any medication that can repair the damage to your brain from watching this kind of movie. Do you see where I'm going with this, Nate?

I'm only going to need one shell, aren't I?

Most likely, dear.

...ok...yeah, ok...

The End.

Written in April 2011 by Nathan Decker.

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