In new sci-fi chiller, Hypnotic, Jenn Tompson is a software engineer currently working her way through an unsettled period in life. She has recently split up with her boyfriend, is presently ‘between jobs’, and feels depressed and unmotivated.
At a party, Jenn meets Dr. Collin Meade, a renowned hypnotherapist who suggests he might be able to help her move forward. Intrigued by his proposal, she schedules a session with Dr. Meade, and undergoes a round of hypnotherapy.
Finding the experience to be more beneficial than she expected, Jenn continues to visit Meade for the next three months. Throughout this time, her life begins to get back on track, and she finds happiness.
But all is not what it seems, and despite the positives that have come from the hypnosis, Jenn begins to experience black outs. She also starts to see visions of Meade in her mind, with both herself and the doctor engaging in intimate situations.
Is Dr. Meade really helping Jenn, or is he taking over her thoughts? And if he has found a way to get into her head, how does she get him out?
Directed by Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote, Hypnotic stars Kate Siegel, Lucie Guest, Jason O’Mara and Dulé Hill. The film is available to stream on Netflix from today, and if you enjoy small-scale thrillers then this is one to check out.
Hypnotic is a low budget picture, and one which is pretty straight-forward in the storytelling department; it doesn’t go to any places that are particularly unexpected, and doesn’t offer anything original. Yet Hypnotic is surprisingly effective in what it does, and despite its limitations, I liked it.
The film takes its simple premise and uses it to create a story that becomes a metaphor for the Me Too movement. It is a story about a man who is confident, powerful, and highly influential, and who uses his status and supposed professionalism to take advantage of those in his care.
Early into the movie, Hypnotic sets out the notion that Dr. Meade is the bad guy of the story – this isn’t a secret and both the audience and the lead characters know this. The film then gives Meade the freedom to weave his way in and out of the narrative, to cause tragedy whenever he needs to, and this becomes something which is rather interesting to watch.
By going down this route, and making it clear who the villain is early doors, the film is less about waiting for Meade to be exposed, and more about watching him get away with his crimes. It is about the horror and anguish that he puts Jenn through, and seeing how this unfolds.
This is a good move for this movie, and one which transforms a fairly well-worn tale into something a little more captivating. Sure, it doesn’t delve quite as deep as I would have liked, but by setting out its intentions quite clearly and signposting Meade as the monster, the film is able to deliver on its premise.
Leading this movie are Kate Siegel as Jenn and Jason O’Mara as Meade. Both are very good in their roles, but it is O’Mara in particular who is the standout star.
O’Mara is cool and calm in his performance. He delivers his dialogue rather slowly, to demonstrate that Meade is in perfect control, and he practically glides across the screen like some ethereal being.
He plays Meade as a complete and utter bastard, who MUST be exposed as the monster he is. And yet it is really difficult not to become interested in him and (dare I say it) hope he gets away with his crimes.
Meade is the Hannibal Lecter of this film – the villain that you can’t help but focus on, even though you know you shouldn’t. And while I continually wanted Jenn to get a satisfactory resolution to her plight, that would free her from Meade’s control, I also wanted Meade to slink away into the shadows so he could come back for more movies.
This is the sort of villain who could easily pop up in a string of sequels, all doing dastardly things and continuing to get away with it. Of course, I won’t say if he does get away with his crimes, but I will say that if ever there is an opportunity to bring Meade back, and O’Mara is on board, I’d certainly be up for watching.
As well as the good performances from its lead stars, the film also benefits from a brisk run-time. At no point does Hypnotic ever wear out its welcome, and it is able to do everything it needs to, all while remaining at just under the 90-minute mark.
Hypnotic also looks pretty good, and while it is clear that this production is working with a small budget, meaning it does have shades of ‘TV movie-of-the-week’ about it, this is fairly solid stuff. Sure, it’s not going to win any awards, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be entertaining.
Before watching this movie, I figured Hypnotic would be an underwhelming chiller, and one that would bore me rigid within the first 30-minutes. Netflix has been pumping a number of lacklustre English-language films as of late, and I figured this would follow suit.
But Hypnotic proved to be a pleasant surprise, and while it does feel like something that has been done before, none of its shortcomings derail the movie. The film knows how to bypass its limitations to play to its strengths and the end result is a decent thriller.
Hypnotic won’t blow your socks off or rock your world, but it will entertain you. It is the sort of film that does exactly what it says on the tin, and on this occasion that is perfectly fine.