Updated: Jun 1, 2023
Try as I might, despite my best efforts to watch a holiday themed horror movie this week I just couldn’t do it. It doesn’t really feel like Christmas this year and frankly after watching all three Black Christmas movies I needed a break. So, instead of a holiday movie this week I watched Hypnotic (2021), a Netflix original starring Kate Siegel as the protagonist and Jason O’Mara as the antagonist respectively. From the opening scene I assumed the therapist, Dr. Collin Meade (O’mara) bared resemblance to a Criminal Minds episode where the serial killer uses his patients' phobias to kill them. A woman is crushed in an elevator and I have to assume that he doesn’t have Saw level abilities to make her wander into a mechanically altered elevator that crushes her without the news getting a hold of the story. I did however find it interesting to see what someone might experience inside of their head when having a phobia, like claustrophobia, come into play.
We are introduced to the main character Jenn Tompson (Siegel) as she arrives at a friend’s get-together. We are informed through dialogue that she is struggling, hints like her bringing a dead plant because she drank the bottle of wine she meant to bring are made apparent. My problem with this throughout the movie is that she is a really put together appearing woman for someone struggling, unemployed, and in need of a life changing therapist. Her hair is done, her clothes are cute despite the costume designers best efforts to make Kate Siegel look frumpy in a knit sweater. Also in this scenario we meet the therapist himself, Meade, who shouldn’t even be at this party considering he is treating Jenn’s close friend, Gina Kellmen, played by Lucie Guest. Already I know he is no good based on this fact alone and his general lack of boundaries having the audacity to give Jenn a card in the first place knowing the association between his patient Gina and Jenn. We also learn that Jenn has an ex-boyfriend Brian Rawley, played by Jaime M. Callica, whom she has a sorted past with but clearly still cares about.
Of course Jenn ends up going to see Meade for therapy and goes under hypnosis. We as the viewer are not privy to what happens in this session, as neither Jenn is, she goes under and then wakes up and that’s it. We do however learn that within three months of that session she has secured a good job and per her therapist's urging is going to have dinner with Brian to discuss their issues surrounding the death of their newborn son years before. As she is leaving to get groceries for said dinner she gets a call from an unknown number, she answers and then blacks out only to come to with Brian choking in her bathroom. Despite me thinking he would for sure be the first murder victim of Meade in Jenn’s life he is alive on a ventilator. Jenn blames herself only to piece together with memories and clues that she in fact bought sesame oil, Brian’s allergy, and put it in the salad for him during the blackout. In a surprising twist Jenn doesn’t just ignore this but instead starts to investigate hypnosis and crimes committed under hypnosis.
The discovery that you can in fact be hypnotized and then be made to carry out crimes she compiles evidence and takes it to an officer who previously investigated Meade for this very crime, Detective Wade Rollins, played by Dulé Hill. She’s also roped her friend Gina, the one who introduced her to and recommended Meade, into this investigation despite Gina not believing her at first. Rollings is sympathetic but can’t do much at the moment as he has tried in the past and the police bureau uses hypnosis in crime investigations and doesn’t believe him about Meade. This is annoying but ACAB so it makes sense. As they leave Gina decides to mention that despite his protests before Meade has also used hypnosis on her, and at this moment I know that she will either be killed or try to kill Jenn.
Before that happens however Jenn tries to catch Meade by recording him during one of their sessions. She’s not great at deceiving him and he has been stalking her anyways and is aware that she went to talk to the police with Gina. He lets her record it anyways and just uses the time to interrogate her about her mistrust around him. He creepily calls her “my love” which will become important later and I will bitch about that. As predicted he calls Gina and puts her under hypnosis to kill her, my problem with this is why the hell would she continue talking to him when she heard it’s him on the phone knowing damn well he uses death mind control on people? Also, she starts seeing a spider on her while driving with her husband but like she doesn’t have to crash or accelerate into traffic, she could’ve just pulled over and gotten out. Either way, she and her husband die in the crash.
There’s some cat and mouse between Rollins and Meade, with Rollins being far too trusting in his presence even drinking his alcohol. It’s apparent that Meade only uses hypnosis on certain patients but we still aren’t privy to why that is at this point in time. I can’t believe that he’s letting Meade not only know he’s onto him but also calling him out on his turf, is this a man thing? Anyways, Rollins goes and tells Jenn his findings and warns her and then leaves only for Meade to show up moments later and use force like power to stop her dead in her tracks. Rollins gets attacked in his apartment by another one of Meade’s patients under hypnotic mind control, she’s somehow good at fighting and practically kicks Detective Rollins’ ass. He ends up in the hospital which I appreciated because I like his character and it annoys the hell out of me when they kill a character too soon and make the villain seem invincible only for him to be easily thwarted later.
Jenn ends up going to see another therapist to talk about the hypnosis and maybe be hypnotized again and fuck that. I would never be able to trust another therapist again after this bullshit. Alas, this sweet lady puts her into a hypnotic state where she starts choking in the real world but in her subconscious she has visions of a house and a bracelet with the date of March 6th on it being given to her by Meade himself. Once she breaks out of this state to a horrified therapist they determine that that darn Meade has placed stop gaps in her subconscious so she can’t be hypnotized and released from his bullshit by anyone else. They do decide however to place their own suggestions in her subconscious as a defense against Meade. Now right here I thought, damn that’s genius, I wonder how this will play out. Well, not as intelligently as I assumed.
Like every gung-ho horror movie idiot, Jenn goes to the place from her dreams alone, despite learning that it’s Meade’s dead mentor’s home, in the middle of nowhere. Before she leaves she updates the recovering Rollins, cause he can’t catch some peace. This freaks him out but he stays his ass in the hospital bed where it belongs. Unfortunately, he gets a call shortly after that Meade is actually the son of the “mentor” who had ties to MKUltra and implanting false memories into patients. Xavier Sullivan, the mentor, refused to retire like most white men with ideas of grandeur. When Jenn gets there we are shown that uh-oh, Meade is actually Jamie Sullivan, the creepy son of creepy Xavier. I’ll admit some of these events might of occurred out of the order I’ve described them but it’s all the same in this scenario.
In the face off between Jenn and Meade/Jamie we learn that he has been trying to recreate his wife and their happy moments with lookalikes and that Jenn has made it the furthest up in here. He has her hypnotized to sit still as he describes his creepy agenda. In a cliché he gets angry when he’s called insane. This bothers me because I think we can all agree that you can be insane and still be aware of being insane especially if you’re a trained therapist who has knowledge of what is psychologically “normal” and “abnormal”. Some more stuff happens and then we get to the point where Rollins is there trying to find and shoot Meade and Jenn is able to break out of the hypnosis kind of. Side note, during the altercation between Meade and Rollins Meade uses a tire iron to hit Rollins and I want to know why everyone in horror movies just has tire irons laying around, I don’t think I’ve owned one in my life. Jenn gets the gun and shoots a fighting Rollins and Meade and thinks she has shot Meade and killed him waking up in the arms of Rollins on the couch. He calls her “my love” though and she instantly knows based on the stop gap placed by the good therapist that she’s under hypnosis. This pissed me off. Why the hell weren’t there far more stop gaps in place, was it a time issue, was it a fear it wouldn’t work. Jenn and the viewer both know he’s used words such as ‘stop’ and ‘sleep’ couldn’t they have added those to the counter measures to stop some of this extra shit from happening?
Regardless, she gets free, kills Meade, and Rollins survives. Like every disgruntled woman she cuts bangs in the flash forward. She has a great job and waits dutifully by the side of Brian for him to wake up from whatever is up with him.
Was it a great movie, no, was it a nice break from Christmas horror, yes. I didn’t have to think much, the plot, while predictable, also had satisfying elements. Not particularly scary other than the notion that someone could fuck up your whole life because they put you under hypnosis. I assume that the level to which he’s able to control her isn’t possible but I honestly don’t want to know if it is because the idea of people walking around being mind controlled in real life is actually terrifying. I left this viewing never wanting to be put under hypnosis.
Recommended score: 4/10