When last seen, Michael Cera was impaled on a lamppost like a hunk of wriggling bait in “This Is the End.” In his new film he wanders the desert hugging a giant, phallic, hallucinogenic cactus. In short, he has transformed himself from one of the most irritating actors of his generation to one of the best. And a good part of the credit goes to Chilean director Sebastián Silva and his “Crystal Fairy,” a wry, sad, latter-day “Easy Rider” (1969).
Actually, the film in some ways resembles a much more recent movie, “Aftershock,” the horror movie co-written by and starring Eli Roth. Like Roth’s character in that film, here Jamie (Cera) is an obnoxious, naive American who has traveled to Chile in search of cheap thrills, specifically a taste of the magic San Pedro cactus, which he hopes will blow his mind a la Aldous Huxley’s “The Doors of Perception.” He has enlisted his three local friends, Champa, Lel, and Pilo (played by Silva’s brothers, Juan Andrés, José Miguel, and Agustín Silva) to help him on his quest.