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Popcorn Frights Review: ‘Psychosis’ Takes A Rough Trip Into The Hypnotic Mind

Popcorn Frights Review: ‘Psychosis’ Takes A Rough Trip Into The Hypnotic Mind

Pirie Martin’s Psychosis is an interesting debut feature that is shot in black and white, featuring a haunting narration that brings viewers inside the main character’s mind. We are taken on a drug-fueled ride into the seedy underbelly of a world full of crime and hypnotism. There’s an interesting story with visuals to match here that, unfortunately, does get lost within itself at times and causes the film’s ninety-eight minute runtime to feel a little bit longer than it actually is. Issues like this mean Psychosis won’t be for everyone, but there will definitely be an audience that is fully on board.

The film opens with Cliff Van Aarle (Derryn Amoroso, Offstage) explaining his gift of paracusia (auditory hallucinations) and how it helps him with his ability to suggestively influence behavior in people. Part mind reader, part hypnotist, and part someone who just reads body language really well — Cliff uses all of this to his advantage as he fixes problems for the right price. When a new drug causes its users to turn into “zombies” and a dealer wants answers for what’s going on, Cliff takes the case because he needs the money to care for his sister. What follows is a descent into mind-altering drugs, mythical kingpins, and surreal visuals as Cliff battles his own demons, the inner workings of the mind, low-level criminals, and a man in a wolf costume. The aforementioned paracusia is present throughout the film in the form of the narrator but also Cliff’s inner thoughts and fears about what he is experiencing. It is an interesting plot device that at times added an interesting twist to the events on screen as we hear the hallucinations ordering Cliff around, but the paracusia is constantly bombarding the audio to a point where at times it feels like too much. Viewers will know early on whether this is a film they are going to enjoy or not.

The story does feel a bit repetitive at times making everything drag on. That being said, there are moments throughout that make me very interested in seeing what Pirie Martin makes next because he has fascinating ideas on display here. The surreal visuals became very creepy and had me wishing there was more of it, especially given the story. The hallucination sequences are helped by the film being shot in black and white, making them feel more haunting and straight from a nightmarish bad trip. Also the use of hypnotism was unique, and personally I feel like it doesn’t get used enough in horror. Psychosis takes cues from Pi or Memento in the sense of searching for answers in a world that has more going on than what meets the eye. Combined with the drug-fueled surrealism of All Jacked Up and Full of Worms, it creates a thriller that’s both gritty and weird. It takes chances on creating something unique and while they don’t all land, I have to applaud the creative choices made here. Psychosis is an interesting watch that shows real potential and for many will foster a desire to see where Pirie Martin goes next. If this sounds like your kind of trip, you can check out a trailer below.