Director: Choi Jae Hoon
Cast: David Lee, Johyun, Kim Do Hoon, Kim Nam Woo, Nam Min Woo
Runtime: 1 h 25 mins
Rating: NC16 (Horror and Disturbing Scenes)
Released By: Golden Village Pictures
Opening Day: 18 February 2021
Synopsis: It feels like someone is controlling me! Do-hyun (David LEE), is a dedicated English major who enjoys his college life. One day, Professor YEO (SEO Yi-sook) asks Do-hyun to help a newly transferred student who is undergoing psychological treatment. Through this, Do-hyun meets Professor CHOI (SON Byung-ho) and undergoes hypnosis. When he wakes up from being hypnotized, Do-hyun begins to have visions of unknown memories. Meanwhile, his friends also face mysterious incidents and suffer from strange hallucinations. Don't trust what you see! With repeated mysterious events and strange afterimages from nightmares, Do-hyun and his friends wonder why Professor CHOI started hypnotizing them. What is the horrifying reality that is happening to Do-hyun and his friends?
When it comes to hypnosis, you usually belong in one of the two camps: Those that believe and wish to try, and those that don’t but would also like to try. Suffice to say, The Hypnosis is eager to tap into this fascination for this fledgling science, though practitioners might not appreciate the dramatic slant from this horror title.
Do-hyun (David Lee) is a model college student. Well-mannered, studious, conscientious. As a rep in his English major class, he is tasked by his professor Yeo (Seo Yi-sook) to accompany a new transfer who goes for psychological treatments with another resident professor at the school.
Professor Choi (Son Byung-ho) turns out to be someone who uses hypnotherapy for his work, and intrigued by the practice, Do-hyun goes for a session.
It doesn’t take long for the hallucinations to start.
As he starts getting visions of a girl taunting him, his friends also begin to experience the same. As we learn about triggers and past lives and suppressed emotions, here is where The Hypnosis gets a little messy.
The premise Director Choi Jae-hoon tries to put out is a compelling one. How we justify our actions or forget our unsavoury deeds, is in itself similar to self-hypnosis where our brain washes away the acts from memory like a bad stain. When it’s about grief or loss, this can be a coping mechanism. But what if it was trying to hide away darker and more menacing traits?
While the theme peeks through (much more clearly at the end when things are revealed), The Hypnosis fails to really guide us to the satisfying conclusion, mostly because the meat didn’t exactly marinate.
For the most part, the sequences here are choppy. As the group slowly battle with their own supernatural events, there’s no real link between the occurrences and their motivation. A scene would have one character experiencing a terrifying nightmare, but they would then either reappear only after a long absence, or come on-screen without seeming like they were impacted in any way. Even the relationships between the four friends feel extremely empty.
With the happenings getting more grave, it should be obvious that the students should seek the Professor Choi for help, and yet that only comes much later, and again, with not much being extracted from the meetings other than a (very unhelpful) dire warning.
Horror fans will know this sort of writing points to a red herring, so the reveal at the end isn’t all that unexpected. But predictability can be forgiven if the film had us emotionally invested.
It’s odd that the same person who delivered the graceful The Swordsman would be so clumsy here. Maybe the genre was the reason for the awkward sequences? Nevertheless, his aesthetic eye does grant some beautiful sets and lighting, but The Hypnosis needs a richer script to better drive its message and tragedy across.
(Promising storyline stumbles badly in its sequences, upsetting motivations and logic for a lukewarm film)
Review by Morgan Awyong