Police Det. Danny Rourke only looked away for a second. But it was long enough: Minnie, his daughter, was gone.
They said that a man named Lyle Terry did it. But authorities detain and question Terry about Minnie’s whereabouts, he claims no recollection of kidnapping anyone. No one believes him. And sure, Rourke blames Terry. Ultimately, though, he blames himself for that mere moment he looked away.
The only thing Rourke can do is focus on what he can fix right now, which happens to involve a call to stakeout for an impending bank robbery. The hidden officers focus on an older man who seems to be the ringleader of the heist, a guy leading people who seem to be total strangers to each other in order pull off the crime.
Soon, Rourke discovers that the man is after a safe deposit box. And all it contains is a photo of Rourke’s daughter with the phrase “Find Lev Dell Rayne” on it. He and two officers chase after the ringleader, cornering him on the roof of a parking garage. But the two officers hesitate when the man looks at them.
“What are you waiting for—cuff him!” Rourke yells.
“They’re no more conscious than Lyle Terry was,” the man says, before commanding the two officers to shoot one another to death, which they do without hesitation. And then, the man is gone, and Rourke is left with more questions than ever before.
Who is Lev Dell Rayne? How did the robber force complete strangers to do his bidding—even to the point of death?
And why is this man after his daughter?
Ultimately, Rourke does most of what he does in order to discover where his kidnapped daughter is. Though he doesn’t understand much of what is happening, he continues to fight and search for answers, hoping that each clue will bring him back to his daughter. Some other people help Rourke in his pursuit, too.
The movie suggests that there are many people known as hypnotics: individuals with the ability to “influence the brains of others,” forcing them to do whatever is commanded of them.
While this hypnotic ability is generally explained as little more than a genetic trait, there’s certainly a supernatural element that comes with their influence on others. For instance, hypnotized people can be commanded to kill themselves or others against their will, and we’re told that they can’t emerge from that hypnosis until they complete the command that’s been given to them.
We see a psychic who offers hypnosis and tarot card readings. She uses a crystal ball to perform a reading. Something is described as a “Holy Grail.”
A woman is hypnotized to believe that it’s extremely hot outside, and she strips to her bra to try to cool down. A man and woman kiss, and the next scene implies that the two of them went quite further. Rourke is seen shirtless. A woman showers, but nothing is seen.
Many people die in Hypnotic, and some of those deaths are the reason for this film’s R rating.
A hypnotized man is commanded to kill someone. When he’s handcuffed to a bar, he tears at the cuffs to try to get to his target, and we see his hand being almost entirely severed in his attempt to get out of the handcuffs—all in gory detail. Another hypnotized man violently jams his head into a metal spike in order to kill himself.
Plenty of people are shot and killed—and some are hypnotized to kill themselves or others around them. Many headshots are shown, complete with a spray of blood and a camera shot focusing on the resulting wound. We also see people get hit by cars, and other cars crash into each other. One of those car accidents hurls a person through the windshield and onto the pavement. Someone blows up a couple people with a bomb.
Rourke’s daughter, Minnie, is kidnapped. Rourke fights against an angry mob of people, and one person is hit with a bat. Someone is tased.
The s-word is used five times. “H—” is uttered nearly 10 times. We also hear the occasional uses of “a–,” “b–ch,” “b–tard,” “p-ss” and “d–n.”
Rourke drinks moonshine.
We hear a joke about urination.
Hypnotic is frustrating.
The film establishes an interesting premise: a criminal using hypnosis in order to compel others to assist him in his nefarious schemes. The problem, however, is that much like the victims in this story have no recollection of what happens following the crimes they’re induced to commit, Hypnotic likewise leaves its viewers feeling confused after a viewing, too.
Many plot twists occur during the film’s hour-and-a-half runtime. Almost all of them are explained away with a half-hearted, “Oh, what you saw earlier was actually hypnosis, so ignore that.” And though I’m sure the plot twists were supposed to make me feel as paranoid as anyone would be when dealing with someone who can influence your perception of reality, instead they left me frustrated and waiting for the next time the movie would tell me that what I just watched didn’t actually happen.
But that’s just the plot. I also need to mention the content-based issues. Most of those come from the film’s violent scenes, where we see plenty of hypnotized people forced to severely injure or kill themselves or others around them. Some of those deaths are quite gruesome. Swearing (primarily in the form of the s-word and “h—“) is also present, and there’s brief sexual content, too.
The hypnotics in the film might be able to compel others to do whatever they desire. But Hypnotic simply couldn’t hold my attention.
Though he was born in Kansas, Kennedy Unthank studied journalism at the University of Missouri. He knew he wanted to write for a living when he won a contest for “best fantasy story” while in the 4th grade. What he didn’t know at the time, however, was that he was the only person to submit a story. Regardless, the seed was planted. Kennedy collects and plays board games in his free time, and he loves to talk about biblical apologetics and hermeneutics. He doesn’t think the ending of Lost was “that bad.”