In the most notable instance of rotoscoping (not counting those creepy Schwab commercials), Waking Life doesn’t offer a spastic presentation by any means. But its cinematography does offer up a non-stop shimmering effect, which, when coupled with shaky “camera” work and a lots of surreal imagery, is a subtle attack on the senses that can cause the brain to go into overload. I had to step out of the theater for a few minutes just because I was feeling sick, but a trip to the men’s room and some Sour Patch Kids cleared that right up.
Now, I’m no expert on what triggers a seizure (if I was, I would sit around all day making people seize), but I know that The Blair Witch Project, with its jerky camera work as a matter of course, made audiences sick to the point that theaters started posting warning signs because employees were sick of cleaning up vomit.
While this may not be the bright-light strobe effect that is known to kickstart seizures, I know several people (who were stoned when they saw the movie, mind you) who claimed they felt lightheaded and dangerously close to passing out. Could that just be the weed? Sure. I imagine if you gave someone enough weed, the Joy Luck Club could make them feel violently ill.
However, there were several reports of seizures during the films’ theatrical run, so there’s some quantitative evidence to support the inclusion of this film.