Stars: Jenna Verdicchio, Steve Hope Wynne, Kristina Dargelyte, Rosie Cochrane, David Aldridge, Adam Lewis, Mark Carlisle | Written and Directed by Johnny Johnson
When it comes to reviewing independent movies you tend to compensate for the low budget at times and feel that you have to be lenient in your criticism. I’ll admit I’ve done this in the past but to be too lenient would be unfair to the makers of the movie who want a fair criticism of something they have put a lot of work into. This is why when I watched Psychotic, yes I saw the usual weaknesses of independent movies and there were other weaknesses but there were many things that should also be praised.
Psychotic takes place, as many horrors do, in a mental institution. For a nice change though this is not found footage, but the tale of an institution in its last days where everything should be shutting down. When the head security guard is fired and told he won’t be needed in the new hospital this causes him to snap and trap a psychologist alone with him his fellow guards and escaped patients. The psychologist finds that she must trust the inhabitants of the institution if she is to get out alive.
From the start the weaknesses of the film are evident and this is mainly the script and the performances that come from it. Psychotic is at its best when it’s not having to rely on spoken word but action as it’s the camerawork and lighting that makes the film stand out. The problem with the script is that it’s uninspired and we’ve seen it all before, the movie wants us to have no thought of the reality of the situation at all, to believe things that just make sense and to just accept the unbelievable. The problem with this is that the movie viewer will question just why certain events happened, how they happened, and why would an institution be so insecure? Suspension of disbelief can only go so far.
When it comes to the acting the doctor Jenna Verdicchio and head security guard Steven Hope Wynne are the two stand out actors, and they need to be as they are the two main characters of the piece. Their confrontations and verbal battles are highlights and a move away from the weak script that the film relies on. It just feels a shame that the rest of the cast just don’t have enough to work with to really pull out a performance. Even the character of Lara Visser (Kristina Dargelyte) just doesn’t have that impact as she’s too predictable.
Even though I feel so negative towards Psychotic the saving grace is that it is a very well made movie. I can see the good intention in the script even though it misses the mark, and this kept me watching and to a point kept me entertained. You do find yourself wanting to know how the film ends and you do feel slightly fulfilled by the ending if slightly annoyed, but to find out what annoyed me you’d have to watch the whole movie to find out.
So the question has to be, is Psychotic worth viewing? Well I’d not write this and say that this is a film that you can just forget about, because I don’t personally believe in proclaiming things like that. Psychotic may not have the best script and may fall into the trappings of Independent movies but what it does have is heart and as a film in itself it is well made. Maybe not one that you’ll watch again after the initial watch, it is at least an oddity that should be given a chance, it just might surprise you.