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When Detective Janet Losey (Shirley Henderson) discovers that the hypnotist who is curing her smoking habit has the exceptional gift of seeing images in his patients minds, she drags the reluctant Michael Strother (Goran Visnjic) into the case of a young girl she’s minding. Heather (Sophie Stuckey) had escaped from a serial killer in London, but hasn’t spoken a word since the trauma. Strother, recently arrived from the US with his own young daughter (Lauren Gabrielle Volpert) and pregnant wife Clara (Miranda Otto) is faced with a familiar situation as his gift puts him and his family in danger when he tries to help Heather. With the help of the reclusive historian, Elliott (Paddy Considine), Losey and Strother find bizarre clues, including occult tattoos, that lead them to a mysterious Professor Lebourg (Fiona Shaw) who may provide the crucial link to find the killer.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
When the English get it right, they can do creepy better than probably anyone. It’s their innate sense of understatement that – as old Hitch demonstrated many times – makes fear grow in our hearts. Hypnotic is not flawless, and some aspects could have been strengthened, but overall, it’s a seductive escape. From the casting to the music, from the editing to the cinematography, Hypnotic outdoes most of what Hollywood does these days in order to make us dread the night. 

Casting: Shirley Henderson is hardly the eye catching blonde. But she’s every inch the actor, creating a credible police woman whose well meaning attempts at trying to solve the crime are derided by her superiors. Snooty lot, too. And Goran Visnjic. Goran who!? Well, Goran the gifted, actually, Goran of The Deep End, for a start. A masculine-handsome actor with range and charisma, a kind of Antonio Banderas with a better command of English. Music: Simon Boswell’s score avoids the clichés but strikes the right chords. Editing: intelligently edited, by which I mean Niven Howie has assumed the audience has some. 

Cinematography: Peter Sova’s lighting is a welcome mixture of naturalism and stylish mood-setting. Performances are solid and engaging; even if Visnjic and Otto don’t pair sensually (after all, she’s pregnant), both deliver terrific characterisations. Otto does it with a fluid and likeable American accent, complete with voice tone, which is remarkably effective as short hand to her character. Visnjic does it with inner workings that are shown in his face. 

Nick Willing’s direction is energised without hysteria, and best of all, the film never abandons it’s focus for sheer effect. As an example of genre-straddling between psychological thriller and horror, the film is entertainingly pungent. And Hypnotic’s literary ancestry ensures a complex scenario in which our imaginations can participate.

The DVD includes cast interviews and theatrical trailer.

Published March 11, 2004

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CAST: Goran Visnjic, Paddy Considine, Shirley Henderson, Miranda Otto, Corin Redgrave, Claire Rushbrook, Fiona Shaw

DIRECTOR: Nick Willing

SCRIPT: William Brookfield, Nick Willing (novel by Madison Smartt Bell)

RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes

PRESENTATION: Widescreen; Audio 5.1 surround

SPECIAL FEATURES: Cast interviews, theatrical & extended trailers


DVD RELEASE: March 10, 2004

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