Most Won’t Be Truly Entranced by Hypnotic (2021)
First Non-Festival Release: October 27, 2021 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Matt Angel, Suzanne Coote
Writer: Richard D’Ovidio
Runtime: 88 Minutes
Starring: Kate Siegel, Jason O’Mara, Dulé Hill
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Jenn (Kate Siegel) admits that she is depressed to her friend Gina (Lucie Guest). This depression stems from her recent separation from her fiancé Brian (Jaime M. Callica) following the death of their stillborn son. Gina raves about her therapist Dr. Collin Meade (Jason O’Mara) and convinces Jenn to schedule an appointment with him after they meet at a party. In the session, Dr. Meade suggests hypnotherapy to which Jenn expresses initial skepticism before reluctantly trying. A few months pass by and Jenn realizes that something isn’t right with her visits and she seeks out the consult of Detective Wade Rollins (Dulé Hill). She’ll soon find the truth is much more sinister than she could imagine.
Hypnotic plays out like a typical thriller with a horror twist but does it effectively, nonetheless.
Pretty much every beat of the film is broadcast from the moment it starts. There’s nothing exciting or new about it, but there is comfort that it is familiar. A strong opening and some intense sequences otherwise, there isn’t much narratively here to inspire most viewers. Missed opportunities like references to MK Ultra could have propelled this film just a bit further to make for something more unique. In the end, the mind control aspect feels forced and doesn’t quite pass the sniff test.
Themes about moving on from the past and letting go are apparent throughout Hypnotic. Both Jenn and Dr. Meade have things in their pasts that they must let go. Each does so in incredibly different ways, which leads to the central conflict. Jenn does this by seeking therapy and casting aside initial reservations. Dr. Meade does this by trying to recreate his past. It’s clunky at times, but it feels earned based on the backstories of the characters involved. Moreover, it’s nothing revelatory, content to skim the surface of a rather shallow concept.
Jenn is pretty one note as far as protagonists go. We don’t know much about her other than her past which has left her rudderless. It’s easy to sympathize with her but it’s hard to connect because she’s set up to have very little personality. She isn’t that big of a player in her own story. Almost everything that happens is caused by the actions of others, even her big moments towards the end. It feels a bit insulting to her as a character but given the subject material it makes some narrative sense.
Hypnotic does make some good choices occasionally. The hypnosis scenes are very well done. Dizzying flashing lights and the sinking feeling of trance permeates through the screen thanks to tight editing and great visual control. It contributes to an overall even-pace which makes it an easy film to watch. The set pieces are generally bland and sterile, but it fits the bill for a film that spends much time in businesses and therapist’s offices. Simultaneously, it leans into the camp aspects of its silly premise and writing. Dr. Meade’s spaces all seem ripped from the pages of some pulpy romance thriller meets supervillain origin story, all in good fun though. Everyone injects an adequate amount of life into the film despite not getting much material to work with beyond their two-dimensional characters.
It won’t win any awards, but Hypnotic accomplishes what every low budget straight to streaming film hopes to do: it plays to its strengths. The gimmick behind Hypnotic is utilized to its breaking point, uncovering most plot threads in a predictable yet passable manner. It’s nothing you haven’t seen before and you’ll likely see it again, in one form or another. Is it high art? No. But it also isn’t trying to be, which is the charm. I’m not implanting any suggestions in you to go see this movie, just know that if you do check out Hypnotic it will be an overall fine experience.
Overall Score? 5.5/10