CAST: Kate Siegel, Jason O’Mara, Dulé Hill, Lucie Guest, Jaime M. Callica, Luc Roderique
RUNNING TIME: 89 mins
BASICALLY…: A woman (Siegel) seeking self-improvement experiences deadly consequences after seeing a renowned hypnotherapist (O’Mara)…
NOW FOR THE REVIEW…
I suppose, in a way, the title Hypnotic makes sense for this movie – you’ll certainly find yourself drifting off to sleep during it.
Yet another cheap and dull Netflix thriller that seems to have been loaned out from the Lifetime Channel, Hypnotic takes a borderline sci-fi premise and turns it into the most stock psychological stalker movie since the last one. A cliché-ridden script, wooden performances and overall bland filmmaking do not serve this movie’s cause, and it only makes you wish you were watching a swinging watch instead, because that would at least be more interesting to look at.
The film stars Kate Siegel (of much better Netflix offerings like Mike Flanagan’s Haunting anthology series) as Jenn, a woman who is struggling to reconnect with the world after a close tragedy. Her friend Gina (Lucie Guest) points her in the way of renowned psychiatrist Dr. Collin Meade (Jason O’Mara) as a means to help get her life back on track, and during their initial session he suggests hypnotherapy as a way to access her subconscious and alter her current moods. Although she initially reaps the benefits of being happier and more open, it isn’t long before Jenn begins to experience a series of dark events which she has no memory of, and all the signs point to Meade who – surprise, surprise – has much more sinister intentions for his newest patient.
The only thing that really makes this any different to the dozens upon dozens of psychological stalker thrillers out there is the hypnosis angle; when done right, it can be made out to be a pretty creepy control device that essentially takes away a person’s free will at the mere suggestion. Here, though, it’s mostly just a means to ensure that a lot of weird stuff keeps happening (characters imagining elevator walls closing in on them, or spiders crawling up their shirt, stuff like that) to pad the movie out to a thankfully short 90 minute runtime, with hints of other mind control outings like The Manchurian Candidate or Danny Boyle’s Trance being exactly that: hints, and nothing more. There’s a distinct lack of imagination on the part of directors Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote, who are already working from a lousy script by Richard D’Ovidio, but can’t make certain things like the hypnosis scenes themselves feel as enticing as they ought to be, because they’re coated by dim and ugly cinematography that makes it look like it’s in the same universe as the Fifty Shades trilogy, and the performances are too uninvesting to care about, including Siegel who is unfortunately left to dry for a lot of this movie.
The script doesn’t do a good job of keeping your interest, because not only are the characters not worth getting to know all that well, but they constantly do things that are so stupid that people in a standard slasher movie would be telling them to take the hint. The only reason that certain things are allowed to happen is because characters are dumb enough to let them happen, without thinking beforehand that what they attempt to do might blow up in their faces (which it does on more than one occasion). Certain motivations are also tricky to comprehend, particularly those of the villain who just seems to be doing crazy things only because the script calls for it, and can drop his guard as the smooth and trustworthy doctor at any moment to remind the audience that he’s the bad guy (still not enough to convince you? How about his office looking like a miniature Bond villain lair? Or the fact that he even seems to have his own henchperson who’s all too quickly disposed of?).
There is little joy or even entertainment to get out of this movie, which plays it so straight and serious that it very quickly becomes tedious rather than unintentionally fun. It is definitely another disposable Netflix made-for-TV thriller like all the other ones, but thinking about what the movie could have been with the concept it has makes this an especially unfathomable let-down. It’ll take more than hypnosis to forget about this one.
SO, TO SUM UP…
Hypnotic wastes its potentially unsettling premise on an insultingly bland psychological stalker thriller template, with little else in terms of acting, writing or filmmaking to carry it through.