Ever since she began shooting the video for “We Found Love,” Rihanna repeatedly said that she was crafting her deepest video to date, and that the Melina Matsoukas-directed clip would be all about “love being like a drug.”

As it turns out, that was to be taken literally.

“We Found Love” might be the stuff of an Ibiza dream sonically, but its accompying video is something far more sinister.

The clip follows RiRi and her beau in Belfast–played by the gorgeous Dudley O’Shaughnessy–both caught in a love that’s littered with trouble (a bad romance, if you will): “You almost feel ashamed that someone could be that important–that without them, you feel like nothing,” the narrator explains during the video’s chilling opening monologue.

They start off as nothing more than a rebellious duo: Skating, lighting fireworks, twirling on restaurant tables and getting hot and heavy in a cornfield. But quickly, things take a turn as the video exposes the darker side of their relationship.

When the duo isn’t running around and laughing, they’re blazing up, drinking heavily and dropping all sorts of pills in their dingy flat–all perfectly rendered in a way that feels chilling and real, with just enough symbolism (eyes dilating) and shock (the drugged tattooing of “MINE” on RiRi’s rump) to tell the tale. And as the video goes on, it only gets worse–they bicker and fight, make up, fight again, and dive dangerously deeper into their addictions until Rihanna finally walks away from it all. Or is it only temporary?

It’s difficult to deliver such a heavy narrative in the vein of other addiction stories a la Requiem for a Dream without coming across as either campy or disingenuous, but Rihanna’s done it with “We Found Love.” In fact, I think it’s completely genius.

I love that she avoided anything even close to a half-assed club affair of laser lights and smoke machines. I love that she’s stepped up her game as an artist and challenged herself as an actress. But what I love most about the video for “We Found Love” is that, as with “Man Down,” she tells a story free of preaching, hand-holding or hitting her fans over the head with a certain message. You watch. You react. You draw your own conclusions.

While she’s delivered some truly stunning videos in the past, “We Found Love” is probably her first actual larger-than-life moment as a pop star, or–dare I say, a rising icon. This is the next level for Rihanna…and she’s only just beginning. As a fan (and a card-carrying member of the Rihanna Navy), I couldn’t be more proud of the girl.

Now, Let’s see the VMA’s try and snub her for THIS one next year.

“We Found Love” was released on September 22. (iTunes)