New Horror Releases: Psychotic! (2018) - Reviewed

Psychotic! is a new indie horror film from the minds of Maxwell Frey and Derek Gibbons, who also co-directed and co-star in the the feature. It is a dark and yet comedic ode to the glory days of exploitation cinema, Italian giallos, and the ‘80s slasher subgenre, combining them together to produce a beautiful visual palette inspired by the giallo style and a glorious helping of blood-spattered practical effects and a high body count. 

Tim (Maxwell Frey) and Stuart (Derek Gibbons) are roommates and struggling artists living in Brooklyn, dealing with the everyday problems like love, paying rent, band drama, and struggling to maintain their friendship. Along with their issues, there is a masked maniac known as the Bushwick Party Killer who is murdering hard-partying Brooklyn hipsters. Can they handle their own personal issues and unravel the mystery of who the Bushwick killer is? 

Following the style of the Italian giallos that were popular in the ‘60s and ‘70s, Psychotic! is a murder mystery that blends the atmosphere of suspense with elements of slasher violence. Frey and Gibbons do a fine job in created an air of mystery surrounding the main characters and who may be the potential killer, which all leads to the penultimate finale when the killer is revealed to all of our surprise. They also put their own personal spin of the mixture of subgenres, creating some darkly comedic situations and dialogue. It’s very Brooklyn, with the main topics being focused on by the characters being drugs, art and music, and the Bushwick killer. 

The directing and cinematography are excellent. The crew and cinematographer Brian Stansfield should be highly commended for accurately creating and capturing the visual style of the giallos, with their use of strong colors to light the various locations of the film. It truly is something to behold. Throughout the picture, the characters and there surroundings are infused with strong and bright oranges, yellows, red, and blues. One particular scene that stood out featured an actor completely shadowed in blues, with an almost fluorescent orange background behind him. The synth score from the Brooklyn-based synth duo Blazing Galaxies is outstanding and is reminiscent of John Carpenter’s Halloween score and other great ‘80s horror scores. 

The acting is surprisingly good, which is something that you don’t typically expect from an indie horror movie that was shot for around $50,000. Frey and Gibbons both deliver fine performances in their own ways, with Frey standing out a little bit more because of his character’s abnormal mental state. Kristen Martin is also good as Roxy, Stuart’s potential love interest. She has an nice onscreen presence and hopefully we will be seeing more from her soon. Adam Maid also delivered a fine performance as Bill, one of Stuart’s bandmates that has some issues with him. 

With most horror films, the level of violence and gore are an important aspect in producing a memorable and re-watchable film. Fans should not be worried, as they more than deliver in terms of practical effects, blood shed, and gore. The kill count is high and there are several unique kills in here, which will more than satiate horror fans. The look of the killer is also terrific, with a crazy looking mask that may or may not be made from paper mache. 

Overall, Psychotic! is a resoundingly successful feature length debut for Maxwell Frey and Derek Gibbons. It has a superb visual style, fine performances from its cast, a cool looking killer, and a high kill count backed up by bloody practical effects. I cannot wait to see what they come up with next. 

Don't miss your chance to catch PSYCHOTIC! on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, Sony PSN, Xbox, as well as special screenings at the Nitehawk Theater in Williamsburg on the 25th, Film Noir Cinema in Greenpoint on the 26th, and Videology on the 27th.

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