Kolobos (1999) is set in a halfway house for recovering psychotics, both men & women. But most of them thought they were invited guests for a psychological experiment, & are shocked when things go awry & they cannot escape the house of shocking deadly snares.
But then it turns out to be a psychotic doctor's evil experiment. Or it turns out to be a symbolic residence in the mind of one of the psychotics. Or perhaps it is a manifestation of another psycho's horror manuscript/autobiography. Or...
Ultimately it's all nonsense, but very arty nonsense, & I loved it, loved the shifting reality that never totally resolves into one thing or another. It's gory enough I think it should appeal even to non-thinking horror fans; indeed it has a couple of the strangest gore sequences ever filmed. But a layering of artistic value & complete oddity makes it much more than an ordinary gore-fest.
Hypnosis; aka, Hypnos (Hipnos, 2004), in Spanish with English subtitles, is based on the bestselling horror novel Hipnos (1996) by Javier Azpeita.
It is set in a mental hospital that specializes in hypnotherapy. The cinematography is excellent; it's well-acted; & some very unusual set design, though it doesn't really invoke a hospital, has its own visual appeal.
Alas the screenplay is so chaotic that it is extremely unrewarding, despite that it won the Grand Prize at the 2005 Brussels International Festival of Fantasy.
The story & its structure attempts intellectuality, but hinges on one of the worst ideas which good storytellers generally avoid: If people are insane, & hallucinate, then whatever they experience may not be true, therefore anything can happen since nothing is definitely happening.
Therefore everything we witness & try to follow in Hypnosis has a "never mind" appended to it. Despite some excellent atmospherics, nothing is ever allowed to build from scene to scene, but is always revising itself.
A young medical professional, Beatriz Vargas (Cristina Brondo), comes to work at the institution & is soon at odds with other thereapists. She suspects there is an evil experiment going on, with doctors using hypnosis to convince patients to commit suicide.
The patients she deals with include a young girl (Marisol Membrillo) who saw her mother brutally knifed to death & has never been right in the head since; an artist (Julian Villagran) who is continuously drawing macabre clues in his notebook, clues that add up to nothing; & an isolated patient (Demian Bichir) kept in the White Room who claims to be an undercover detective who came to investigate the rash of suicides & is now in need of help himself.
It all begins quite well, excellent visuals & moodiness disguising the slimness of story.
But throughout, we are never allowed to trust Beatriz's paranoic point of view. She is apparently on meds herself, & as her suspicions about the institute heighten, her perspective is less & less trustworthy.
As Beatriz's own apparent craziness increases, her reality melts away. The story comes unglued as hallucination, madness, & reality comingle into a ridiculous mess.
Since it's impossible to tell what if anything is real about the story, it becomes tiresome & even ludicrous to even try to care about what happens on the screen.
By the time Beatriz discovers she's a patient & not a medical professional at all, it just seems moronic, as well as a rather hoary trick. By the time all the characters are revealed to be other than represented through the film, it all feels like a big con job against the viewer. Everything is contradicted or transmuted & the effect is of no story all, just random illusions.
Continue to more madhouses:
The Jacket (2005) and Crazy Eights (2006)
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