Movie Review: PSYCHOTIC! (2016)

I’ve only been to Brooklyn once for a brief few hours, meaning I didn’t get as much of a feel for the place as I would’ve liked. I spent most of my time there perusing a cult DVD store owned by a particularly friendly fellow from the Eastern Bloc, who took pride in stocking his shelves with everything from Jodorowsky to Lenzi, Argento to Carpenter, etc. It’s a great little store, and I felt instantly at home walking through its doors, comforted by all the familiarity and flicks that I love.

By all rights, I should feel the same walking into PSYCHOTIC! A BROOKLYN SLASHER since it too is packed with things I love. It has all the trimmings of a classic giallo and slasher: the POV shots, the gloved hands, the heavy breathing, the slashed throats. But this is just the first 7 minutes, which made a fine short film until directors/stars Maxwell Frey and Derek Gibbons turned to Kickstarter to fund the next 80.

It seems like an easy sell; let’s make a movie about a Brooklyn slasher killing hipsters. Great, right? Well, it could have been if they didn’t aim for a comedic tone that goes way over the top and bleeds into genuinely obnoxious. The amateur acting grates, and the cheap home movie look doesn’t help. It’s like they fluked the 7 minutes, and by the time they had the resources to extend it, they realized they weren’t cut out for feature filmmaking, which – let’s face it – is a different kettle of piranhas to festival shorts.

PSYCHOTIC! doesn’t have the budget to pay off wading through its cringeworthy padding and fluff. There’s an inordinate amount of weed smoking, with the film stopping at one point for a musical interlude while characters bong on in slow motion, followed by a lengthy scene of stoned rambling that plays like they forgot to call cut and just edited it into the movie anyway. There was zero momentum before, but when this happened, Psychotic! Made me feel like my time was being flushed down the drain, spiralling like blood in Alfred Hitchcock’s shower.

It takes 45 minutes from the opening to get to the 2nd kill scene. I’m convinced the filmmakers forgot they were shooting a slasher, and not a series of in-jokes that I’m sure were riotously funny to their friends. Who, aside from them, is this movie for? Maybe it’s for the Brooklyn crowd who could get a kick out of something like this being made in their neck of the woods? I however, could only live further from Brooklyn if I launched myself into space and built an orbital habitat out of my own feces.

But hey, good for these guys! They wrote, directed, edited and released a movie into the world, and they did it all while smoking a buttload of weed, so kudos. If they were my friends, I would have had a grand old time, going to the film festival premiere, loving the novelty of my buddies making and starring in a movie, getting all the in-jokes and slapping my knee as they goof around and punch bongs at 24 frames a second. And then, in 20 years time when we all catch up at a barbecue or something, I’d say, “Hey remember when you guys made a horror movie? Those were fun times.”

PSYCHOTIC! is now available on VOD on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, Sony PSN, and Xbox. There will also be a special screening on the 26th at Film Noir Cinema in Greenpoint and the 27th at Videology.

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