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The Hypnosis - Movie Poster
Original Title:

South Korea 2021

Horror, Thriller

Choi Jae-hoon

Lee David
Kim Do-hoon
Nam Min-woo
Kim Nam-woo
Kim Min-joon
Son Byung-ho
Seo Yi-sook

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The Hypnosis

The Hypnosis - Film Screenshot 1

Story: Do-hyeon (Lee David) studies and makes a small documentary about what guilt means. His professor then asks him to take care of the new student Jin-ho (Kim Nam-woo) and to show him around at the university. At the moment, Jin-ho is treated by Professor Choi (Son Byung-ho), who is the university's specialist in hypnosis, because he wants to regain his memory. Do-hyeon is very curious about hypnosis as a treatment method, so he goes along, and Professor Choi suggests hypnotizing him as well. The student sees some things that he cannot place, including a small child with a jute bag over its head. As Hyeon-jeong (Johyun), a friend of Do-hyeon's, is struggling with depression, the student sends her to Professor Choi too, who then treats her. But she starts to hallucinate, even calls Do-hyeon one night, and tells him that she sees Seung-min. The name doesn't mean anything to him, but soon something bad happens, so that he has to start investigating. In fact, he cannot remember his childhood. Then, when other friends also start to see and hear strange things, it seems as if someone hypnotized them without them knowing it. Do-hyeon tries to solve the mystery around Seung-min before worse things might happen, but he is not ready for the answers that he is about to get....

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The Hypnosis - Film Screenshot 4

Review: Hypnosis as a means to make lost or repressed memories come back to the surface, or even to control someone unknowingly, should be a pretty promising angle for a thriller or, in this case, a horror flick. And at first, "The Hypnosis" actually manages to arouse interest. But after the first nightmarish visions flicker across the screen, it quickly becomes clear that the story lacks coherence. The way in which we are led to the big resolution is by no means uneventful, but you never understand how the individual scenes relate to each other. The same problem can be seen with the characters. They are just there, and we are not able to get emotionally attached to them. All in all, this horror flick is quite disappointing and does not look like the product of a director who has already a blockbuster under his belt.

The Hypnosis - Film Screenshot 5

Director Choi Jae-hoon not only put "The Swordsman" on the big screen, but he is also responsible for the recently released "The Killer". So, "The Hypnosis" doesn't quite fit into Choi's résumé when it comes to genre, but in addition, in terms of quality, it also reminds you more of a newcomer's work. That doesn't mean that there aren't any nice scenes. Especially the atmosphere of some nightmares or visions is kind of reminiscent of "Silent Hill". But the way the story unfolds is simply amateurish. We follow the student Do-hyeon, played by Lee David ("The Terror Live"), who is actually shooting a documentary, but we don't get to see any of that later anymore. Even though the theme of his documentary will play a rather important role later on. Moreover, there are numerous other characters, all of which serve a specific purpose within the story, but beyond that, they have no character traits at all.

The Hypnosis - Film Screenshot 6

Some of Do-hyeon's friends even disappear from the screen for a while only to then reappear when it fits the script. Sometimes, their terrible visions have a huge impact on their psyche, for example in case of Hyeon-jeong, but other times, what they see is simply ignored, only to then have the consequences come into play a little later. In addition, you would think that the clique was somehow tied together by a band of friendship, but there's no chemistry between the characters. Moreover, their motives are unclear or simply non-existent. Therefore, a lot of decisions seem rather incomprehensible. Of course, some people are supposed to stay as vague as possible, for instance the professor, but with him you never get the impression that he is actually the villain. Even if it might have been hackneyed and you would probably have known that he wasn't the culprit, as that would have been far too obvious, using him as a potential villain would at least have built a bit of suspense.

The Hypnosis - Film Screenshot 7

Something close to suspense is actually only created by the fact that we want to find out what the visions are all about. Towards the end, the flick can even be quite entertaining with its resolution, and it becomes clear that an interesting topic around bullying is hidden within the movie. However, this potential is by no means tapped in the slightest. With a running time of a little over 70 minutes, this horror movie is also pretty short. While you have to be grateful that the story wasn't unnecessarily dragged out, there would have been enough room to add a little more depth to the characters, though. It's almost as if director and screenwriter Choi Jae-hoon wanted to keep the characters as flat as possible so that the viewer wouldn't be able to develop any sympathy for them. Because some of them obviously still have skeletons in their closets. This is pretty sloppy work in terms of scriptwriting, as there would have been room to include some complex emotions here.

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Ultimately, it is the amateurishly written story that causes "The Hypnosis" to fall apart. What's the point of a narrative framework at the beginning, if it doesn't get picked up again at the end, and therefore couldn't even be called such? Why are certain scenes not shown, but instead presented to us as flashbacks only a few minutes later, without adding any real value? And is the fact that no one really remembers the past even remotely believable? In addition, you have to wonder why the characters did not immediately seek help from the professor again after the nightmares happened. "The Hypnosis" is frustrating, and the characters are so cold that we always keep a distance to the events. Nevertheless, some of the horror scenes are quite well-done, and the story's motif is not bad either. But all this does not help to push this flick above lower mediocrity.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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