A bunch of hipster activists get killed, and then…
Susan Golden (Charisma Carpenter) is a very successful crime novelist recovering from a breakdown and struggling with her latest book. Her new husband, David (Paul Sculfor), whisks her off to an isolated manor house to finish both her recovery and her book.
When Susan starts seeing things, David thinks she’s relapsing, but Susan is convinced that spirits are reaching out to her.
All mouth and no trousers.
Let me explain that verdict.
Psychosis is, essentially, Gaslight, remade for the present day.
Reg Traviss (director & writer) and Michael Armstrong (writer) could give us a new twist on the old story about a husband driving his wife crazy so he can get at her money.
Sadly, they don’t.
Instead, they give us technique. They tell the story in a visually interesting way. They structure it their own way. That can’t disguise the story, though, and that leaves us knowing that something will happen, even if we don’t know exactly how that will look.
I’m not automatically against re-makes, you see. I see no point in, for example, the 1998 Psycho, which was a shot-for-shot re-make of the 1960 Hitchcock movie. If you don’t have something original to say, then you’ve abdicated any title related to creativity.
The 1997 McHale’s Navy was horrible for its own reasons, but at least it was a relatively original story.
Thus, Psychosis is all flash and no pan.
Susan isn’t a character so much as a disintegrating bundle of neurosis. She’s needy, deceptive, uncommunicative, unimaginative, and passive.
David isn’t a likeable character, but at least he has motivation and ambition.
The context is a muddle until the very end of the movie, when the timeline neatly sorts itself out. By then, I felt like the movie owed me more after 80+ minutes of my time.
The conflict is inexplicable. Why does David need to drive Susan crazy?
Where does his need for money come from?
Why does Susan see things?
I can imagine why she might not relish going to a psychiatrist after having been in mental care, but it’s not clear why she sits on her ass until she seeks help from the village pastor and a parapsychologist.
The movie just stumbles along without a truly clear structure. There’s the intro when the activists get killed, then Susan moves into the house and stuff happens, then we get the reveal of David’s treachery (which still doesn’t explain Susan’s visions), and eventually the movie ends.
Charisma Carpenter deserves better material than this, and we deserve better movies.