What would you do if you were literally not in control of your own body? This is one of many chilling questions posed by Hypnotic. I loved Kate Siegel in Mike Flanagan’s Hush and The Haunting of Hill House, so when I heard she was going to be involved in another Netflix horror-thriller, it instantly caught my eye. Richard D’Ovidio, screenwriter of 2001’s Thir13en Ghosts and 2013 Halle Berry vehicle The Call, pens the twisty script, and the directing duo of Netflix’s underrated The Open House (Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote) take reigns behind the camera. Add in a focus on hypnotherapy, and you have a must-watch movie in the form of Hypnotic.
“This is how the world ends.” This is the line that a mysterious caller tells our opening victim while she is in an elevator. The elevator abruptly stops. The walls close in on her like something out of a Saw trap, and then the title pops up. We will hear this phrase repeated several times throughout the movie as it is used to mind-control those under hypnosis. Jenn (Siegel), our heroine, is introduced to Dr. Colin Meade (Jason O’Mara) at a party. Still stressed and deeply troubled about the stillbirth of her six-month-old baby with ex-boyfriend Brian (Jaime M. Callica), Jenn begins sessions with Dr. Meade hopeful that he can provide a balm to her troubled mind. A software engineer “in between jobs,” Jenn agrees to try hypnotherapy when Meade suggests it as a means of treatment. Little does she know, after just a single session, Jenn is now at the mercy of Dr. Meade and his sinister agenda.
The horrors here are of a personal kind. What could be more frightening than losing control over one’s body, and potentially harming a loved one? When it becomes clear that Meade is toying with her, Jenn takes it upon herself to research hypnosis-based crimes (a staple of many horror movies pretty much since the Internet has existed), and she brings her findings to unhelpful detective Rollins (Dule Hill). “Just stay away,” he advises her, having inside knowledge of Meade’s hypnosis-based patients. Meade meanwhile continues terrorizing Jenn in nearly every way one can imagine.
Hypnotic is armed with a good ending, the mark of any solid and memorable thriller. It is not exactly a genre game changer, but as a means to catch Kate Siegel back in action, I will take what I can get. Her Jenn character is forced to go to any lengths in order to survive Meade’s twisted endgame (one which is admittedly far from original). Siegel works with directors Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote to ratchet up the tension with her nuanced and headstrong performance evolved beyond the typical damsel-in-distress. I will certainly think twice before ever considering hypnotic treatment, whether real or imagined.
Hypnotic puts you in a trance when it debuts on Netflix on October 27th.