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:: Hypnotic

Hypnotic is a contemporary thriller set in London and starring Goran Visnjic, of ER fame. He plays an American hypnotist, Dr Michael Strother, who has moved to London to escape a professional disgrace back home. With him are his daughter and heavily pregnant wife, played by Miranda Otto in a truly thankless role. Usually the wife in these sorts of stories ends up being stalked, or at least kidnapped by the killer, but Otto has not even this to stretch her acting ability.

Soon enough Strother is involved in an investigation into the kidnapping of a young girl who has refused to talk since her escape. The only clues are the tattoos her kidnappers left on her arm. Strother appears to be psychic, reading the mind of his client, Shirley Henderson, (Once Upon a Time In the Midlands, Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself), the new darling of British independent cinema and here, somewhat unconvincingly, playing a policewoman, Losey. Strother’s psychic ability is never delved into and only serves to advance the plot when there is no other way to do so.

The clues lead to the bizarre beliefs of a sixteenth century fanatic, which are somehow tied to the buildings of a very unchristian architect of churches and the woman who has written a book about it. It never really makes any sense and the film skims over it as if any lingering will expose its weaknesses. Along the way there is some half buried sexual tension between Strothers and Losey, which never seems to get off the ground, and the usual conflict between the cop following her gut feelings and superiors who just care about how they look in the media.

Hypnotic is inspired by a book by Madison Smart Bell, who appears in the film as one of Strother’s patients, though it departs significantly from it. This is the second feature from director Nick Willing, who first made Photographing Fairies and went on to direct mini series for Hallmark.

The film has some moments of suspense and foreboding and some sufficiently gruesome acts by the killer but it never coalesces into a complete whole. I found myself wanting to rent Rosemary’s Baby, for a truly fulfilling occult/horror experience.