JUNE 8, 2011
I hadn’t heard a single good thing about Psychosis, with even members of its own production mocking it on twitter, but any movie that features the lead singer from The Darkness is automatically worth watching. Even if it was otherwise the worst movie ever made, I could walk away knowing that I just saw a horror movie featuring the guy from one of the most underrated bands of all time (who I just learned has apparently reunited and are recording a third album – YES!).
Well, it’s not the WORST movie ever, but it’s pretty goddamn bad. I don’t know who the hell thought that expanding a segment from an anthology into feature length was a good idea, but that’s precisely what Psychosis is: a 90 minute take on the 25-30 minute “Dreamhouse” segment from the forgettable anthology Screamtime. Though whether it was an intentional “remake” or just a total ripoff is a bit of a mystery; there is no credit for the original writer (Michael Armstrong) in the opening credits, only one buried in the end credits (which are noticeably of a different font than the one for the other credits, which suggests it was a late-game change).
Had I known it was an allegedly intentional remake, I might have spent less of the movie being annoyed. But when Carpenter’s character began seeing a kid playing in the yard, the memories of Screamtime came flooding back and I spent the rest of the movie wondering how these guys were getting away with ripping off someone else’s story so identically. This is why you credit the writers at the top of the film, so people who pay attention can know what they are in for.
Ironically, it’s only because I saw the other movie that I was able to understand this one. Despite having an extra hour at his disposal, writer/director Regg Traviss doesn’t use the time wisely, and thus the twist is just as (if not MORE) muddled as it was in the short version. The idea that Carpenter is not seeing the past but the future is incredibly vague, and I swear the time from when the killer pops up in the present day timeline and kills someone to the end credits is the same as it was in Screamtime (meaning: not very long and so abrupt you might suspect you're watching an edited version).
He also wastes 15 minutes at the top of the film on a slasher sequence that doesn’t have anything to do with the rest of the movie until the very end (and even then, barely). It’s actually a decent slasher set piece (loved that he was licking the one girl’s feet as a precursor to the “I think someone else is here” moment), but the movie is NOT A SLASHER FILM. I mean, you don’t have a ghost prologue before a torture thriller, so don’t put a damn slasher movie at the top of your psychological haunted house flick. Especially when it doesn’t have any of the main cast in it – I was actually starting to wonder if Netflix had somehow glitched and combined two movies together. My guess, they realized that expanding the story wouldn’t be enough for a 90 minute feature and thus decided to film some unnecessary (but gory/violent) action to start the film off, despite the fact that by doing so, nearly an entire reel has gone by before we meet our main characters.
The main part of the movie is padded too. By the 37 minute mark, Charisma Carpenter has said “I think someone’s downstairs” a whopping THREE times to her husband, and keep in mind she didn’t even enter the story until 15 minutes or so had passed. And it should be a bit of a mystery as to whether or not her husband is up to no good, but again, in order to get the movie to an acceptable length, we get an overlong, worthless scene of him attending some sort of debauched party and sleeping around. And I still have no idea what the point of the priest hanging out in their house was.
This also leads to the only thing about the movie I liked: Justin Hawkins (aka the guy from The Darkness). He is more or less playing himself, and introduced via a music video that Carpenter (and thus, the audience) pays close attention to for some reason. Then she starts seeing him in her regular life as well, building to the alpha and omega of “Is she seeing things?” scenes in movie history. She is out and about and sees the guy from The Darkness standing in the road, and then a car passes by and he is gone. And that’s it, that’s the whole point of the scene. Charisma Carpenter may or may not have seen the guy from The Darkness. Amazing.
The non-guy from The Darkness part of the cast, of course, wasn’t as exciting to me. Carpenter puts some effort into it, even going without makeup for big chunks of the movie (and letting her hair grow to ridiculous lengths – trust me Cordy, short hair flatters you!), but her character is annoying and weak, which is a bummer. The guy playing her husband is a dull Jeremy Northam wannabe, and worse, the two have zero chemistry even in the early parts of the movie when they’re supposed to be a happy-ish couple, which makes his plot arc entirely weightless. The supporting cast is fine, though none are around long enough to make much of an impact, as the movie is primarily Carpenter getting upset while wandering around her own house.
In short, it’s pointless. If you simply must see the story of a woman having premonitions but being too hysterical to figure them out in time to do anything about them, watch the Screamtime version. Or just skip both and check out The Darkness’ sophomore album “One Way Ticket To Hell And Back”, which features the awesome title track as well as “Dinner Lady Arms”, possibly the finest song ever recorded concerning flabby limbs.
What say you?