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Panic Fest Review: NO CLIP's Trippy Adventure Inspires Intrigue and Bewilderment

A woman is walking down a colorful hallway
Image courtesy of NOCLIP

By Amylou Ahava

When people think about a mall, they envision open spaces where people can stroll and chat with friends, with stores lining the periphery of this massive, shared space. However, there are numerous spaces within malls that very few people get to witness. In the realm of conspiracy theories and mind-bending cinema, NOCLIP takes viewers on a journey through the hidden realms of a shopping mall, revealing spaces few have ever seen.

Alex and Gavin, portrayed by the film's creators Gavin Charles and Alex Conn, venture into the rarely explored areas of the mall and capture their aimless adventures on camera but never really explain why they are doing it. With a lack of motivation and no character development, the film relies entirely on establishing a sense of place as the two friends search for liminal spaces as if it were a mysterious cryptid. NOCLIP is a found-footage film that explores the boundaries of filmmaking, privacy, and the eerie allure of liminal spaces within the familiar confines of a shopping center. 

Gavin and Alex (aspiring filmmakers) embark on a project to film a movie in their local mall, Crown Center, believing they have the right to film anywhere within its public spaces. So, everything from the bustling food court to the hidden corners of the building is all fair game. It does not mean everyone (or even the mall) is open to being filmed. But in this day and age, there isn’t much that can be done because, well, kids be filming. As they explore the mall's hidden areas, documenting their journey, they encounter strange and unsettling occurrences, which blur the lines between reality and fiction. 

While it’s not entirely clear what the two men want to film, they are clearly focused on getting into the liminal spaces such as stairways, hallways, and rarely used backrooms. Some gamers or deep divers of the internet might get a hint about the plot from just the film's title, but many viewers might not understand the term. ‘No Clip’ happens when a video game character glitches through what should be a solid environment. For example, a character runs at a wall from a certain angle, and this causes them to glitch through the wall and into a different room. And some conspiracy-inclined people believe humans can achieve a similar feat in real life. 

At first glance, the film may appear simplistic and aimless because following two stoners wandering a mall seems pretty pointless. However, a deeper understanding of the terms "No Clip" and "Backroom" reveals the film's reliance on conspiracy theories and the concept of extradimensional spaces. This knowledge transforms the seemingly mundane exploration into a journey laden with symbolic meaning, where every unopened door and unexplored corridor holds the potential for a mind-bending revelation. The cinematography captures both the banality and the potential mystique of the mall setting and uses the contrast to create an atmosphere of intrigue and mystery.

I don’t know who NOCLIP was made for (it was definitely not me), but I have a feeling people who enjoy imbibing in mind-altering substances will enjoy the conspiratory exploration of the setting and the bright, trippy colors of the cinematography. At about an hour, the film does not overstay its welcome but never goes anywhere. It just kind of circles around and around simultaneously, looking for something and nothing at the same time. 


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