“Psychosis” is a creative, near flawlessly executed, remarkably weird film that offers viewers a truly memorable experience.
PARACUSIA: Perceiving sound without auditory stimulus
In this day and age, it feels like we have seen too much. We have seen so much on the silver screen, in fact, that we seem to only watch movies rather than really experience them. We are so desensitized that creators are forced to go further and further down the road to extremity to manufacture an experience.
Somehow, despite all odds, Psychosis, written and directed by Pirie Martin, does more with less.
Cliff Van Aarle (Derryn Amoroso) is a mentally broken man. After years of psychological abuse at the hands of a mysterious and absolutely wicked father, his shattered mind is full of hallucinated voices, and his own thoughts come in the form of his own personal “Stranger than fiction” type narrator, a character in his own right.
Working as a criminal fixer, he discovers a master manipulating drug lord by the name of Joubini (James McCluskey-Garcia) using psychological control to create Hollow Men, a type of zombie-like mental slave the likes of which he hasn’t seen since his father died.
Psychosis is a trip, to say the least.
The cinematography shines, with a 1:1 aspect ratio that evokes a sense of claustrophobia. That, coupled with the different disembodied voices speaking throughout, created a grim world just waiting to collapse in on itself.
Shooting the film in black and white fulfilled two purposes: giving it a refreshing noir style and avoiding the typical homemade feel many indie films struggle to distance themselves from.
Scenes swirl and shift whilst a cacophony of antagonistic voices whispers contradictory commands; it was nearly headache-inducing (that’s meant as a compliment), making me slowly lose my mind right alongside our main character.
Occasional flashes of vibrant colors are given as little breadcrumbs, leading to an eventual satisfying payoff that makes the world itself seem to make just a little bit more sense.
Combining many different elements, this movie is an absolute hodge-podge, a masterful mess of a movie that’s strange and unsettling but somehow works absolutely perfectly.
One minute, I’m watching a film reminiscent of the classic Night of the Living Dead with a horde of flesh-eating zombies breaking through barricaded doors to rip our characters apart. The next minute, I’m watching an old-time detective movie with criminals and fistfights.
It teeters on the brink of goofiness with the introduction of a vigilante known as Lone Wolf (Pj van Gyen), who, as you can imagine, dresses like a wolf.
Later on in the movie, it turns into a dark psychological experience as our main antagonist rips through a man’s mind, playing dark tricks that combine well-executed physical as well as brilliantly timed digital effects to create an eerie atmosphere where up is down and vice versa.
The effects in this movie were better than any indie film I have seen. They are used sparingly but effectively.
That’s not to say that there is no gore; there is plenty of blood, but it never feels unbelievable or cheesy. I knew in the first five minutes when I saw a very well-looking decapitated head that we were in for a treat.
The only small critique I have is that the choreography doesn’t always work. In the finale of the film, when Hess (Katie Holly Hall) takes on half a dozen drugged-out zombies with nothing but a baseball, the combat is clunky and ridiculous, especially when compared to the rest of the movie. Up until that point, we had been treated to sleek, near-flawless action scenes.
However, that’s a small criticism in a film that otherwise more than delivers in just about every possible way.
Psychosis deserves praise for many things, including the twisted, dark, and even somewhat silly journey it takes viewers on — a journey that left me wanting more in the best possible way.