Janus Films’ restoration of INLAND EMPIRE’s original low-definition 480i29.97 digital video into UHD/4K 16x9 using Gigapixel AI machine-learning software introduces digital artifacts into many shots that give those shots the uncanny effect of images generated by text-to-image machine-learning programs like Midjourney or DALL-E. They are aesthetically unpleasant but in such a different way to the original’s low-definition digital graininess that the restoration almost seems to exist as an entirely different film in a different context.

In both original and restoration, the offputting aesthetics compound with several other distancing effects in the film that paradoxically draw you in to the movie within a movie within a movie within the dream of a Lost Girl (Karolina Gruzka) (possibly within a radio play) and ultimately into a nightmarish web of abusive men and exploited women. As Mark Fisher (2016) puts it, “a hellish rhizome in which any part can potentially collapse into any other.” It feels like being lost in a maze—in “the film’s labyrinthine, rabbit-warren anarchitecture”—for three hours with all the attendant stress of that sense of being lost.