This article has spoilers for Hypnotic, although maybe it’s better to just read this and save yourself the watch.
The Netflix original psychological thriller Hypnotic is, like, aggressively mediocre. Completely middling. Meh. The performances are nothing to write home about, the script is nonsensical and unscientific and the pacing is haphazard at best. I wish I could go back and force myself to write that midterm I was procrastinating when I clicked the play button; in lieu of time travel, I hope I can prevent you from making the same mistakes I did.
The movie stars Kate Siegel as Jenn, a woman still dealing with the emotional aftereffects of a miscarriage, who seeks self-improvement through Jason O’Mara’s Dr. Collin Meade, a therapist who uses experimental hypnosis techniques to treat his patients. At first, Jenn shows rapid self-improvement through her sessions with Dr. Meade, but things quickly take a turn when she starts losing time and almost poisons her ex-fiancé, coming to her senses just in time to call an ambulance. And don’t even get me started on the strange, intermittent dream sequences where Jenn and Dr. Meade are in bed together.
From there, things only get worse for Jenn as she starts to put two (she lets a strange man hypnotize her for months) and two (she blacks out only to later discover her own bizarrely out-of-character acts) together. She does some intense Googling and discovers Dr. Meade is basically a made-up identity, so she decides to go to one more hypnosis session while secretly recording it to get to the bottom of what really happens during their sessions.
Jenn’s plan hilariously backfires in what can only be described as a glaring blind spot in her critical thinking skills: on the recording, Dr. Meade asks a hypnotized Jenn why she scheduled another session with him and she immediately confesses everything to him. If someone can explain to me why Jenn thought she could pull a fast one on someone who hypnotizes her for hours at a time, I’ll buy you a cookie.
At this point, the pacing issues really kick in. In retaliation, Dr. Meade activates a trap card he had implanted into the psyche of Jenn’s friend Gina (Lucie Guest), another patient of his. She becomes convinced a tarantula is attacking her while she’s driving, and she ends up dying in a car wreck. Later, he comes to Jenn’s apartment and paralyzes her with a single word, another one of his tricks buried in her head.
At this point, it’s established that Dr. Meade has complete control over Jenn’s body and psyche at basically the snap of a finger. How does she have any way to even beat him or persevere? Any course of action she could attempt would be thwarted by Dr. Meade telling her to stop moving, and she would basically have no recourse against that. And yet, Jenn finds a way in the end. I couldn’t tell you how, but that doesn’t stop the writers from making it so.
Let’s flash forward to the movie’s climax – Dr. Meade has kidnapped Jenn and plans to hypnotize her to take the place of his dead wife who just so happens to have looked exactly like Jenn. Those dream sequences from earlier? Turns out they’re Dr. Meade’s dead wife’s memories that he has implanted into Jenn’s head. Yup. Makes complete sense.
Just then, a police detective figures out where Jenn’s been taken and breaks into the house, ready to fight off the evil doctor and save Jenn. Dr. Meade commands Jenn to hold onto a banister and she’s basically incapacitated, unable to get up. Except… she does anyway. She somehow overcomes his hypnotic commands for no apparent reason. She hasn’t grown in any meaningful way as a character, but she unleashes a hidden power she (and also the writers) didn’t know she had and lets go of the banister. With the detective’s help, Jenn fights off Dr. Meade and wins the fight for her life. His evil hypnotic ways are stopped for good, with no further explanation ever offered for basically anything.
On the surface, Hypnotic is a mildly enjoyable psychological thriller, but it lacks substance and coherence when you try to dig deeper. Dr. Meade’s motives are generally unclear – Jenn was not his first or only victim, so what was he hoping to achieve by hypnotizing his other patients? How is she able to overcome his hypnosis in the film’s climax? How did he implant a dead woman’s memories into Jenn’s head? For that matter, why is she coincidentally identical to Dr. Meade’s late wife? Why does nothing in this movie make sense???
Hypnotic has too many questions that go unanswered and, quite frankly, unasked. You hold out hope for some resolution until the credits start to roll; by that point, all you can do is wonder WTF you just watched.
*Article thumbnail image courtesy of Netflix.