Unrealised promise is perhaps more disappointing than mediocrity. Hypnotic, the latest Netflix original film, has a host of insane ideas, but they remain in nascency throughout. The narrative is coherent and dense, with one scene setting up the other, and plot points snowballing into bigger conflicts. However,
the predictability and the red flags you see from a mile make for a rather dampening experience.
Richard D’Ovidio’s script plays it by the book. It begins with the protagonist—a young lady in a slump, both personally and professionally. When an unemployed techie, Jenn Tompson (Kate Siegel, in a familiar role in the horror genre) going through a lull, runs into her friend’s therapist, Dr Collin Meade (Jason O’Mara), she decides to pay him a visit for a therapy session.
Even the lighting and the atmosphere of Collin’s clinic paint a picture of his evil intentions, but Jenn apparently is oblivious. She volunteers to undergo hypnosis and despite an hour passing by, she barely notices it. “It felt like three minutes,” she says, while Collin responds with a smirk. She begins having dreams, shot with lurid lighting to give an abstract feel, and soon realises that the hypnotist might be taking control of her life.
How do you overcome a villain who exerts profound control over you? This question at the centre of Hypnotic is an exciting idea. The best parts of this film have Collin command and control Jenn with a snap, even as the latter struggles to defend herself. But these ideas never get due exploration, on account of the inconsistent treatment. The threat is never palpable, even though Collin is capable of posing a physical danger.
The opening scene, where we see a woman get trapped in a lift, is a great way to give an idea of the threat, and the film does keep nudging us about the menace lurking around Jenn. Perhaps filmmakers should not hesitate about exploring the full darkness of such horror stories. In fact, some of the better stretches of the film are those that hint at this. Be it an unknown lady suddenly attacking Detective Wade Rollins (Dule Hill) or the final stretch in which Rollins searches for Jenn, who is held captive by Collin, these are sequences that hold our attention.
It doesn’t help that the dialogues are cheesy. When delivered with conviction by O’Mara (who has voiced Batman in the DC Animated Movie Universe), they make the movie feel like a parody of a psychological thriller. Akin to Jenn, who barely remembers her visions from the hypnosis, I might hardly remember Hypnotic hours after finishing it.
Directors: Matt Angel, Suzanne Coote