Hypnotic is an aggressive and clichéd thriller that nonetheless boasts some creative editing and camerawork. One can already guess the trajectory of the plot, specifically the roles of the characters within the grand scheme of the story, just from their initial introductions. The result of the production’s different cogs coming together is therefore not nearly as compelling as that of its build-up. However, the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it subtle details that later become more concrete pieces of the larger story induce anxiety amidst some of the film’s duller moments. That said, not every callback is interesting, and some are even detrimental to the action.
Editing and cinematography are at the heart of the film’s draw. The director uses a lot of symmetrical and geometric shots, creating optical illusions that echo the theme of hypnosis. High-contrast colour filters, smooth and sleek camera movement, a rhythmic and heart-thumping score, and creative use of shadows and lighting: every single one of these further add to the beat of intensity and anticipation that makes the overall product somewhat compelling. On top of that, the movie has fantastic transitions, crosscuts and parallels between hazy memories, realities and various flashes forward and back. Visually least impressive are the very generic action sequences.
Some of the acting falls on the spectrum of unnatural and hysterical, eliciting unsolicited humour in moments of seriousness. Kate Siegal, playing the main character of Jenn Thomson, in particular, is awkward and her line delivery is not very believable. Although this does improve as the film progresses, she remains the weak link amongst others’ already unsteady performances. As a result, the supposedly emotionally-driven scenes become a chore to get through rather than moments for character development and introspection.
Although it touches on concepts of victim-blaming and disregard of abuse as “crazy”, Hypnotic avoids diving fully into these topics in favour of a quick flow of events. The pace does slow down about two-thirds of the way into the film and then meanders aimlessly until the run-up to the climax. Its final reveal is extremely underwhelming, and the ending is a rushed attempt at some sort of resolution for the surviving characters. Overall, the picture rests on well-coordinated visuals that distract from the deficit of good acting and storytelling.
Hypnotic is released on Netflix on 27th October 2021.
Watch the trailer for Hypnotic here: