DVD Review: Charisma Carpenter Kills ‘Psychosis’
Studio: Entertainment One
Release Date: January 11, 2011
Directed By: Reg Traviss
Cast: Charisma Carpenter, Ricci Harnett, Paul Scufor, Ty Glaser
Review By: Robert Saucedo
Psychosis is a perfect example of a horror movie that spends too much time paying tribute to the films that came before it instead of actually creating something fresh and original that audiences will dig. The movie, written and directed by Reg Traviss, is a complete and utter mess — weighed down by wooden acting, an inane script and not one, but two terrible twist endings.
Charisma Carpenter stars as Susan Golden, a crime writer who moves to the rural English countryside with her boyfriend (played by Paul Schulfor). Susan has an unspecified history of mental issues and feels that a change of scenery and fresh air will clear her mind and help her push through the writing of her latest novel. But, because Susan is the main character in a horror movie, things don’t go that smoothly. Not long after arriving in her new mansion, Susan begins seeing things. Her visions range from spotting strangers prowling through her home at night to being chased around the forest by her new, nude housekeeper after catching him having rough woodland sex. The sole witness to this strange phenomena, Susan has a hard time convincing her husband that what she’s seeing is real and not projections of her vivid imagination. Considering she’s a crime writer, Susan also does a remarkably poor job convincing the cops that something’s up in her new home.
Traviss tried real hard to craft a nice, somber haunted house movie — with creaking floorboards and bloody bathtubs. Unfortunately, Carpenter sticks out in the movie like a sore thumb with her screeching overacting. With a career built on running away from knife-wielding maniacs or smart-ass vampires — all while looking hot in designer jeans and hair highlights — Carpenter is a horror movie actress of the ‘90s who has been unable to adapt with the times. When she’s inserted into a horror movie throwback that tries real hard to pay its dues to the work of Shelly Jackson, Carpenter comes off as shrill and unpleasant. It’s not her fault, though. She’s like a splotch of red paint on a grey canvas. Unfortunately, Psychosis is about as exciting a movie as a grey canvas.
Besides a violent, yet very familiar opening scene involving a gang of hippies being slaughtered by an axe-wielding psychopath, the film sticks to the haunted house motif. The film gets the tone and atmosphere of the classic English ghost stories right — but that’s about it. The anorexic script is heavy on atmosphere and light on the scares. Like a little kid trying to tell a ghost story, the script wonders off on pointless tangents, wastes time with unnecessary fluff and features a massively stupid ending.
When it comes to the supposed twist ending, the script tires to have its cake and eat it too. The script overdoes it with clues toward the film’s twist with Traviss seemingly daring audiences to not guess the ending. And then, out of nowhere, Traviss throws in another last minute twist that just reeks of gotcha horror filmmaking. The second twist, completely devoid of logical reasoning, is tacked on with no concern given to whether or not it makes any sense. Traviss seems more concerned with patting himself on the back for tricking audiences than finishing his movie on a positive note.
Because even crap can be gussied up with the right amount of primping, the film looks nice enough on DVD. The image is presented in a 1.85.1 widescreen ratio — with a clear image featuring appropriately muted colors. A 5.1 stereo soundtrack is a bit too heavy on the base but otherwise is an acceptable enough audio experience.
As far as extra features go, the DVD features a 31-minute behind the scenes featurete entitled “The Making of Psychosis.” The piece is a nice collection of interviews, behind-the-scenes footage and clips from the film. From the lengthy interviews that go in-depth into the film’s visual and tonal inspirations, it’s obvious that the filmmakers and cast put a lot of thought into their film. The crew really wanted to make a modern-day Hammer film. Unfortunately, the finished project didn’t quite nail it — pun, unfortunately, intended.
Fifteen minutes of deleted scenes are also included — most of them merely expansions to scenes that were already present. Finally there’s a full-length commentary featuring Reg Traviss, producer Patrick Fischer and actor Ricci Harnett, who plays the creepy groundskeeper.
Psychosis is a film that can be completely avoided without guilt. The movie offers nothing new to the world of horror cinema and in fact steals ruthlessly. It’ll steal your time, your patience and perhaps even your fond memories of Charisma Carpenter, who at one time was a beloved cast member of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Instead of taking a chance on Psychosis, horror fans would be better advised to huff a bag full of spray paint and watch an hour of daytime television. You’ll get more scares that way than you will with Traviss’ poor excuse for a horror movie.