Psychotic is a horror film about a group of hard-partying Brooklyn hipsters who are stalked and savagely murdered by a masked maniac.
Low budget horror is truly a genre all its own, one with rabid fan devotion, and in truth a deep well where some of the most successful films from the lot have spawned, from John Carpenter‘s Halloween to The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity. It doesn’t take a lot of money to generate scares and many take to these limited budget films because of their cheap production values and ‘filmed as it’s happening’ approach. With Maxwell Frey and Derek Gibbons‘ bizarre Psychotic, we once again get a movie with very little money behind it aggressively taking to a left-of-center style that fans of the genre will surely embrace, full of loopy comedy, staged tension, and gobs of gore, courtesy of old-timey practical blood effects.
The story is naturally thin. A gaggle of Bushwick neighborhood hipster types chill all day and night in get-togethers drinking and playing in bad bands, cursing and smoking weed. They all sort of hate each other while they all sort of love each other. The problem is, there’s a killer in their midst, a masked man with a bloodlust slowly dwindling their numbers, but what’s more disturbing is that the psycho might be one of them.
Dressing itself up in a few 80s flares while keeping decidedly contemporary, Psychotic is a curious experience, with awkward dialogue and lots of closeups, titled cameras and smoke-filled rooms lit with Christmas lights and tons of neon undertones. There’s even a disco ball. Add to that its wildly (purposefully) overused cheesy, pulsing electronic score and you get the impression that the filmmakers are poking as much fun at the tropes as much as lovingly coddling them. In fact, the best thing about Psychotic is its look, with plenty of colorful imagery, Frey and Gibbons putting a lot of effort into the visual style, which is admittedly a lot more engaging than a film like this would seem deserving of.
The other side of the coin though is the acting choices and a story that, even at barely 87 minutes, is padded with lots of meandering fluff that does little to build much suspense. A lot of it is in extremely tight, giving it an uncomfortably claustrophobic feel that is probably a calculated decision. For that, it succeeds, however it does get distracting, though that’s no doubt one hundred percent the intention. Still, when the horror comes, it’s plenty icky, homaging the forefathers of the genre with gooey guts and gushing blood that all feel like they were made in someone’s garage. I say that as a good thing.
Psychotic is a weirdly satisfying Indie horror, and while it’s most definitely not going to be for everyone, its social satire not always all that sharp or relevant, it has no lack of energy. It’s clearly, devotedly, clinging to an offbeat rhythm that I’m sure many will gladly get in step with.
Psychotic in now available on all VOD platforms.
Movie description: PSYCHOTIC IS A HORROR FILM ABOUT A GROUP OF HARD-PARTYING BROOKLYN HIPSTERS WHO ARE STALKED AND SAVAGELY MURDERED BY A MASKED MANIAC.
Director(s): Maxwell Frey, Derek Gibbons
Actor(s): Kristen Martin, Clint Keepin, Maxwell Frey