Hypnotic Review: A bland and visionless Netflix horror offering
With her noteworthy performances in Netflix’s Haunting series and more recently Midnight Mass, which I swear I’ll get to soon, Kate Siegel leading new Netflix horror flick Hypnotic made it instantly worth checking out, but her appearance is sadly the most notable thing about it.
The film follows a young woman named Jenn (Siegel) who begins seeing renowned hypnotherapist Colin Meade (Jason O’Mara) in order to find inspiration and self-improvement in her life. When talking doesn’t initially make any progress, Colin suggests they try hypnotherapy to open up Jenn’s mind and dig into thoughts she might unknowingly be keeping hidden. Although the process seems to work, Jenn begins to question if it’s working too well after she begins to experience blackouts that lead to her missing hours of time. Soon, Jenn begins to realize that Colin has some sinister motivations behind his treatments that lead her into a dark battle for control.
The initial concept behind Hypnotic is perfect for a unique horror story as it taps into a lot of people’s hesitations with hypnosis. That sense of control being ripped away and the idea that you’re saying and doing things without much choice or knowledge of it is purely skin crawling. The film really taps into this fear well at times with how Jenn is controlled through simple phrases and these moments evoke this uneasiness that’s brought out well in Siegel’s performance. She’s easily one of the bigger standouts of Hypnotic with some of the emotional depth she gives Jenn in her talking about her issues in a past relationship and the sense of desperation she shows in trying to break Colin’s control over her. O’Mara is also solid in how he brings in making Colin a dominating force and Dule Hill is a solid addition as a determined outcast cop desperate to stop Colin.
The pros of Hypnotic sadly stop there though as its an incredibly bland horror flick with lackluster thrills. There aren’t enough thrilling cat and mouse moments to continually keep you hooked on the battle for control between Jenn and Colin as it’s filled with unremarkable story beats. It simply has predictable detective discoveries about Colin’s past that fail to the make the incredibly thin plot and characters more interesting. Colin’s true intentions feel pretty typical for the kind of stalker story Hypnotic presents, and the film wraps up in a way that’s so rushed and unimpactful, it’s like no one was sure how to really end things. Even for its short runtime and basic story, the pacing feels super sluggish and it’s mainly because there’s nothing really holding your attention. The characters are pretty one note and there’s very little depth to the concept of hypnosis that you quickly find yourself being detached from the film entirely.
The moments with Jenn being snapped into hypnosis can have some nice sharp turns in who’s controlling the action but has no sense of style or vision behind it. There are rarely any good uses of hypnosis to place viewers in a false sense of safety outside one moment that’s painfully, obviously not real, and there are no good visuals behind it to make Jenn falling under Colin’s spell more impactful. Just some bland blurry effects and a strobing light sequence that visually displeasing. Even the music is just uninspired stock score and just adds to Hypnotic being incredibly generic.
Although Hypnotic has a notable lead in Siegel that would make it something that many Netflix subscribers would be more inclined to jump into, her appearance is simply bait for a bottom-tier horror story that doesn’t even compare to other horror offerings on the platform.