How ‘Hypnotic’ Is It?!

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I said-a hip, hop, hippy-hypnotic! (CREDIT: Ketchup Entertainment/Screenshot)

Starring: Ben Affleck, Alice Braga, William Fichtner, J.D. Pardo, Hala Finley, Dayo Okeniyi, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeff Fahey

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Running Time: 94 Minutes

Rating: R

Release Date: May 12, 2023 (Theaters)

Now that I’ve seen Hypnotic, have Robert Rodriguez and company convinced me that I would now like to be a hypnotic myself as well? Well, the ending kind of seems to imply that everybody in the world actually is a hypnotic already. (Spoiler Alert? LOL) Anyway, this movie is kind of like the younger brother that copies everything its older siblings do. In this scenario, those older sibs are head-scratchers like Memento or reality-is-just-a-construct puzzlers like Dark City. It’s pretty dopey, and I kind of dug it for that.

Grade: 7 Levs Out of 10 Dellraynes

Movie Review: What ‘Fresh’ Hell is This?!

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Fresh (CREDIT: Searchlight Pictures. © 2022 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved)

Starring: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Sebastian Stan, Jonica T. Gibbs, Charlotte Le Bon, Dayo Okeniyi, Andrea Bang, Brett Dier

Director: Mimi Cave

Running Time: 114 Minutes

Rating: R for Plenty of Blood and a Decent Amount of Flesh

Release Date: March 4, 2022 (Hulu)

Where do monsters exist in today’s society? If you look to Fresh for the answer to that question, you’ll be met with some terrifying, exhilarating results. To wit: modern dating sucks, but also: what’s in our food? It’s a lot to keep track of for someone who wants to live both deliciously and ethically!

For Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones), she’s endured enough epically bad dates that you could easily imagine a Netflix exec hitting her up out of the blue and giving her carte blanche to produce whatever she wants out of all that raw material. Somehow, though, she’s actually in a headspace to accept a proposition in the grocery produce aisle. That’s where she meets a charming fellow by the name of Steve (Sebastian Stan), and next thing you know, they’re heading off for a weekend away together. This is the exact sort of meet-cute that tends to only happen in the movies, and everyone involved in making Fresh is trying to convince us that it should stay that way.

This is the point in my review in which I tell my readers that I am going to do my best to avoid specifics from here on out, as this is the sort of movie that works hard to keep its premise under wraps. The opening credits don’t even arrive until about a half hour in. (Perhaps starting a bit of a trendlet in that regard alongside Drive My Car.) I knew that the scares were coming, but if you go in completely cold, you might think that this is just a cynical comedy about the Tinder era. But everything is just edgy enough, and the colors are rendered in such vivid, bloody detail, that you can probably sense the horror lurking. But is it Noa or Steve pulling the strings as the puppetmaster behind it all?

Like so much great horror, Fresh zeroes in on an  examination of people who live beyond the morals of civilized society. It’s despicable, but also intoxicating to those who lap up these visions of monstrousness. I almost found myself rooting for Noa and Steve to end up together despite the massive degree of exploitation at the core of their connection, even as I was also rooting for the captive to escape in a cathartic turning of the tables. Rest assured, that comeuppance will come, and it will be glorious. In the meantime, we can revel in the bloody beauty from the safety of our viewing devices and maybe learn a thing or two about keeping that darkness cooped up where it belongs.

Fresh is Recommended If You Like: Raw, Promising Young Woman, American Psycho, Get Out, NBC’s Hannibal

Grade: 4 out of 5 Slices