People always visit their therapists for help with their mental health issues, and these specialists are experts at cracking open their patients’ minds, hearts, and bodies. These are among those few people who know a lot of dirty secrets that their patients haven’t even told a single soul besides them. The new psychological thriller ‘Hypnotic’ shows how unethical specialists can easily manipulate their patients into making them dance to their tunes using mind control.
The flick is directed by Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote from a script penned by Richard D’Ovidio the scribe behind Halle Berry’s nail-biting thriller ‘The Call.’ The leading roles are taken by Kate Siegel, Jason O’Mara, and Dule Hill. Hypnotic is available to stream on Netflix starting October 27.
The narrative follows Jenn, Kate Siegel’s character. The actress has been a frequent collaborator of the streaming giant, especially in the horror genre with titles such as ‘The Haunting of Hill House,’ ‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’ and ‘Midnight Mass’ all created by her husband, Mike Flanagan.
In the story, Jenn is a software engineer in her thirties who’s struggling to get her life back together after traumatic events happen in her life. While attending a party at her best friend’s house, Gina, played by Lucie Guest while trying to evade her ex-fiancé Brian a role by Jaime M. Callica. She is introduced to a dashing hypnotherapist named Dr. Meade, embodied by O’Mara, who offers to help her find mental peace and tranquillity to be able to forge forward with her life.
Jenn is a bit jittery about the offer initially, but she finally caves in and agrees to give the treatment a shot. When she wakes up from her treatments, she indeed feels pretty refreshed until, after several sessions, a trail of events starts happening, she’s unable to keep track of her time. She realizes that Dr. Meade’s intentions might not be as noble as she initially thought. It finally dawns on her that she is being used instead of being helped.
Jenn now knows that her shrink has a sinister motive. Sadly he has her on a mental leash as he can manipulate her into seeing or doing whatever he wants by using despicable mind control techniques. Nevertheless, she teams up with a Portland police detective named Rollins, played by Dule Hill, to try and bring the psychotic doctor to book.
From the first few minutes into the movie, audiences can tell who the bad guy or the serial killer is; however the suspense lies in why he is doing it and the process of trying to nail him.
‘Hypnotic’ is obviously a low budget for cable television kind of movie shot using a pedestrian script packed with the usual cliches associated with psychological horror films. Fortunately, the outstanding performance from the cast members and the excellent direction coupled with a few neat twists breathes some life into this script which could have terribly gone south.
One pretty intriguing concept in the narrative that helps build up tension straight away is that if Dr. Meade is a serial killer who slays his targets by using his patients whom he manipulates through hypnosis and Jenn has undergone the process several times. Then it goes without saying that she is indeed a ticking timebomb who can easily be triggered at any time hence the pressure to have the effect reversed before it is too late.
The atmosphere throughout this movie can be described as opulent and chic. Each specific set has its own characteristics to exhibit the kind of emotion oozing out of it or the kind of person who frequents that particular space or setting. The house party has Hollywood executive mansion settings probably inspired by some of these events attended by the film’s production designer.
Dr. Meade’s office exudes sinister vibes, and the aura screams charmingly evil with a dark and gray look more like a Batcave. The rest of the houses featured have plenty of space, covered in glass boasting modern architecture, common among the affluent neighborhoods. One thing these luxurious mansions lack, however, is personality.
The general setting of the movie is in the present day, but the script seems to be stuck back in the 50s. The women are all polished, fashionable, and expressionless, while the men are full of suave, high-powered, and relentlessly charming. The way the characters talk to each other is comparable to how characters in a drawing-room communicate but now with a comedy of manners.
The title of a movie most of the time determines whether audiences will view or skip it. The makers of his flick know this, and after naming the title ‘Hypnotic’ whether it’s a thriller, mystery, or horror, audiences are expecting to witness some intense hypnosis in action. Disappointingly, there are only two scenes in the entire movie where the killer, Dr. Meade, tries to enchant someone, and when they do it, he comes across as goofy rather than freighting or titillating.
There is no doubt that the general look of the movie is more captivating than the meat of the story. The main characters are intriguing, and the process of trying to catch the serial killer masquerading as a doctor who helps people is exciting. There is plenty of tension built up between Dr. Meade’s moral obligation as a professional and his relationships. Sadly, the story concept never goes beyond this.
Overall, ‘Hypnotic’ is an excellent tension flick designed to basically feed on the viewer’s paranoia. The idea that another person can easily control one’s mind through hypnosis is every person’s worst nightmare as one becomes a mental slave to their handler until they find a way out.
Despite the numerous shortcomings, this feature is a good watch for the viewers who are a sucker for these kinds of movies; however, one shouldn’t be disappointed if they are expecting something wittier or mind-boggling as ‘Hypnotic’ doesn’t require the viewer to flex a single mental muscle as it is highly predictable.